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NASA investigates space station hole, plans spacewalk

ISS astronauts may get an outside view of the mysterious leak hole.

NASA removed these before and after images of the ISS hole from a Space to Ground video update in September.

NASA

One of the stranger space sagas in recent memory involves a small hole in a spacecraft attached to the International Space Station that has spawned speculation, scrutiny and a pair of investigations from NASA and Roscosmos, the Russian space agency.

The latest development in the story comes from NASA, which issued on Wednesday a statement about the leak investigation and expressed confidence in Russia's Soyuz spacecraft. 

The odd tale started on Aug. 29 with the discovery of a small hole in a Soyuz craft attached to the ISS. Early speculation on the cause touched on everything from a puncture caused by space debris to a manufacturing mistake to deliberate sabotage. The ISS crew quickly repaired the hole and stopped a small pressure leak.

NASA's statement comes after Roscosmos general director Dmitry Rogozin said the investigation has ruled out a manufacturing defect. Rogozin said early in September the hole appeared to be made by a person with a drill

NASA expressed confidence in the Soyuz manufacturing process. "Ruling out a manufacturing defect indicates that this is an isolated issue which does not categorically affect future production," it said.

The International Space Station program is tentatively planning a spacewalk for November to examine the hole from the outside. 

NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine and Rogozin talked for the first time via teleconference in mid-September and plan to meet in person in Kazakhstan for a Soyuz crew spacecraft launch to the ISS on Oct. 11. The mysterious hole will likely be a topic of conversation.