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
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.