20:05 GMT19 February 2020
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Cosmonauts will send to earth photos of the meteoroid protection plates which were cut off from the holed Soyuz spacecraft to be checked for the traces of a drill, a source in the space industry told Sputnik.

    "The cosmonauts will inspect the plates on the ISS, take pictures and video of them and send [the results] to the ground services," the source said.

    Also, the plates will be sent to earth for inspection on December 20, the source added.

    As for the nature of the hole in the spacecraft, the source believes that Russian cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Oleg Kononenko, who performed a spacewalk to examine the hole on the night of December 11-12, might have unintentionally destroyed traces.

    "It was planned that the astronauts would take and cut off one piece of micrometeorite protection, but cut off three. And the trace of the scissors could get on the trace of the drill, and the evidence was unintentionally destroyed," the source noted.

    Prokopyev and Kononenko have also lost one of the samples of sealant used to plug the hole in the spacecraft, according to the source.

    "At the first attempt to take a sample of the sealant from the hole with a hemostat, the cut piece did not remain in the tool, but has flown into open space," the source underlined.

    READ MORE: NASA Rejected Russia's Proposal to Jointly Probe Hole in Soyuz — Source

    Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin said in early November that the hole in the hull of Soyuz could have been drilled before the launch at the Baikonur space centre.

    The small fracture on the hull of the Soyuz spacecraft was found after an air leak occurred on the ISS in late August. The cosmonauts subsequently patched the hole, while Roscosmos and the spacecraft manufacturer Energia have launched probes to determine how the hole appeared.

    Energia suggested that the hole had been made deliberately. Roscosmos, in its turn, ruled out a manufacturing flaw as the cause of the incident, prompting the US space agency NASA to suggest that the flaw had not been caused deliberately.


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    hole, leak, Soyuz MS-09, ISS, Roscosmos, Russia
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