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article imageSmall air leak detected on board the International Space Station

By Karen Graham     Aug 30, 2018 in Technology
Astronauts are working to contain a pressure leak on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft docked at the International Space Station that was possibly caused by a micrometeorite striking the lab.
The small air pressure leak on the International Space Station was first detected by light controllers on Earth around 7 p.m. EDT (2300 GMT), while the six crew members of Expedition 56 were sleeping, NASA officials said in a statement today.
Because the pressure leak was so small, "the decision was made to allow the Expedition 56 crew to sleep since they were in no danger," NASA said. When the crew awakened Thursday morning, flight controllers at Mission Control in Houston and at the Russian Mission Control Center outside Moscow began the procedures used to determine where the leak was located.
The six crew members, station Commander Drew Feustel, Flight Engineers Ricky Arnold and Serena Auñón-Chancellor of NASA, Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency and Oleg Artemyev and Sergey Prokopyev of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, gathered in the Russian side of the ISS, and after an extensive search, determined the leak was on the Russian side.
Soyuz MS-09 docks with ISS
Soyuz MS-09 docks with ISS
The leak is in the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft, which is docked at the Rassvet module on the Russian segment of the space station. A hole was found that is about 1.5 millimeters in diameter. Russian space chief Dmitry Rogozin said the air was being sucked out of the Soyuz spacecraft.
CBC Canada is reporting the hole was likely caused by a micrometeorite or orbital debris hitting the space station. European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst reportedly actually put his finger over the hole. "In effect, he literally touched space without a space suit," tweeted the YouTube channel Techniques Spatiale.
Problems over sealing the hole have arisen
The Soyuz spacecraft is scheduled to return to Earth in December with the two Russian cosmonauts and ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst. A temporary seal, literally a piece of tape, was used as a band-aid to fix the problem while more thoughtful heads got together to determine how the hole would be permanently sealed.
Three hours ago, the crew was told to use a toothpick on the hole (likely to aid photography and scale). Then they will apply sealant and cover it with a patch. General ISS pressure was holding stable at that time. However, one hour later, NASA astronaut Drew Feustel grew concerned about the Russian sealant plan and wanted it passed on to MCC-Moscow.
"We've got one shot at this and we don't want to screw it up," he said, according to He wants a temp solution and then review for a permanent fix. But the Russians want to go for a permanent fix today. "The ship will be saved with the use of the repair kit," Rogozin insists.
More about pressure leak, Soyuz spacecraft, International Space Station, micrometeorite, Bandaid
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