On Tuesday, a source in the space and rocket industry told Sputnik that Energia Rocket & Space Corporation would be checking all of its Soyuz and Progress aircraft for manufacturing defects following last Wednesday's air leak incident.
The checks will start in the Moscow region city of Korolov, where over a dozen spacecraft are under construction, in the coming days, and extend to the Baikonur Cosmodrome, where a Soyuz MS-10, Soyuz MS-11 and Progress MS-10 set for launch later this year are located.
Most Likely Cause
In any case, Rogozin noted, the accident was not caused by a meteorite, as initially suggested. The official pointed to evidence of "several attempts to impact [the ship] by a drill," and said there were signs that the hole was the work of someone with an "unsteady hand," given that the drill appeared to have slid over the surface of the affected area.
Rogozin said that the commission would help find out exactly who was responsible for the mistake.
A more outlandish theory, proposed by former cosmonaut and Duma lawmaker Maxim Suraev, suggests that it could not be excluded that the hole could have been drilled by a mentally unstable member of the ISS crew. The necessary tools for doing so are onboard the station, he said. "We are all human beings; anyone may want to come home, but this is a completely unworthy way of trying to do so," the lawmaker noted, speaking to Sputnik.
Earlier, Russian media, citing sources in the space industry, said that a worker, already identified, had accidentally drilled the hole, and then sealed it with a special sealant instead of reporting the mistake. The sealant lasted through extensive compression testing before launch and then for two months while the Soyuz was already in orbit, before finally giving way, resulting in the air leak, according to one source.
Scare Aboard the ISS
Asked for comment on the incident on Tuesday, NASA referred Sputnik to the Roscosmos commission to investigate the possible cause of the leak.