10 Sep 2018 20:05

Air leak in Soyuz's habitation module doesn't affect relations between Russian cosmonauts, U.S. astronauts at ISS

MOSCOW. Sept 10 (Interfax) - There are no tensions between the U.S. astronauts and the Russian cosmonauts working at the International Space Station (ISS), cosmonaut Sergei Prokopyev reported from the ISS.

"As you can see, everything is calm on board. We're coexisting peacefully and amicably as always, experiments are being conducted in a routine mode. Our colleagues are preparing for another spacewalk, in which I act as a supporting operator. Our joint international expedition is operating in a calm and friendly environment," Prokopyev said in a special video message recorded at the ISS.

He showed the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft's habitation module, where an air leak had been detected in late August.

"As you can see, we stay here feely without out spacesuits, no one is plugging the hole with their finger, as media had claimed. After the non-pressurized module was detected at the station, we and colleagues established that the leak is in the habitation module of Soyuz MS-09, which is under my command, and proceeded to finding out the place of the leak using an ultrasound device," Prokopyev said.

Having found the precise location of the leak of two millimeters in diameter, the cosmonauts applied one coat of a specialized certified two-component sealing compound over it and the second and third coats the next day.

"The habitation module is fully leak-proof now and we can work," Prokopyev said at the end of his video message posted on his VKontakte account.

In late August, air pressure inside the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft docked with the ISS started lowering. The cosmonauts increased pressure by 10 millimeters of mercury by pumping air from tanks of a Progress cargo spacecraft docked with the ISS. On Thursday evening, the cosmonauts filled the cracks earlier discovered in the spacecraft's walls with a sealing compound and covered them with patches. Subsequently, an ultrasound test showed no air leak at the time.

An Interfax source in U.S. management and control bodies of the station said that during the work on the elimination of the leak, the ISS crewmembers had disagreements about the ways to repair the damaged wall.

Several theories how the crack, which resulted in the air leak, had appeared were initially considered, but on Sunday, Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin said that an external interference was not actually considered and the crack was caused by deliberate or accidental interference during the assembly on Earth or in space.

He mentioned that the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft was transported to the Baikonur Cosmodrome on February 18, 2018, and produced at a plant in Korolyov in 2017. The commission investigating the reasons of the pressure failure is currently examining the task sheets of the spacecraft's production and surnames of all people involving in its construction.

A theory of a deliberate damage to the spacecraft in space is also being considered, Rogozin said.