The crack found aboard the International Space Station (ISS) and the air leak it caused could have been caused by an external impact, members of the Russian crew of the space station stated during a conference with the Mission Control center.
Speaking with Flight Director of the Russian segment of the ISS Vladimir Solovyov, Russian cosmonaut Sergei Ryzhikov said: "If you take a closer look at the picture, there are changes of color in the middle of the crack."
"We suspect an external impact," Ryzhikov said adding that the place of the suspected impact should be examined during the crew’s next spacewalk, which is scheduled for November 18.
Solovyov said that such venture may be very complicated: "You do know well that it is very difficult to reach this place during the spacewalk as there are numerous cables and you will also have to detach a thermal isolation. This is why it will be hard to reach this place from the outside."
A source told TASS in August that the space station’s Russian-American crew was working on tracing an air leak aboard the orbital outpost. Later, Russia’s State Space Corporation Roscosmos confirmed this information.
The air leak spot
The ISS crew reported to Russia’s Flight Control Center on the morning of October 15 that the cosmonauts had found the possible air leak spot in the inter-section compartment of the Zvezda module with the help of a tea bag. As the cosmonauts said, the air was possibly leaking through a fracture. The crack was no more 4 cm wide and posed no threat to the space station’s safety, Roscosmos specified.
Cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin said at a post-flight press conference on Wednesday the air leak spot looked like more a curvilinear scratch 2-3 cm long.
The air leak spot has now been sealed with temporary means. Meanwhile, a source in the space industry told TASS that the air leak would be fully eliminated after the Soyuz MS-16 spacecraft’s landing. As the source explained, this measure was required to make some measurements with the closed hatches.