New stunning official comments from Russian government sources suggest the Soyuz spacecraft currently docked at the International Space Station may have been purposely sabotaged after alarming new traces of what appears to be 'drilling' have been found which are significantly more extensive than previously thought.
The statements, however, point to the sabotage likely occurring on the Soyuz MS-09 craft during pre-launch or possibly while in orbit. Russia is in the midst of a full investigation after admitting early Friday that the damage is "more extensive" than what was previously estimated.
Damage to the craft first uncovered in late August while it was anchored to the International Space Station (ISS) alarmed engineers and raised suspicion of foul play — a possibility at first thought remote — but an air leak was initially thought to be the result of a micrometeorite colliding with the vessel. Upon an opening investigation someone described in Russian media as a "reckless assembly worker" was reported to have made a manufacturing error that had a big impact once in space.
“There are drilling traces not only inside the living module [of the ISS], but also on anti-meteorite plates,” a Russian space program source told TASS news agency. These plates have been described in breaking media reports as "mounted outside of the station’s hermetic hull".
“The one who made the hole in the hull passed straight through it and the drill head hit external non-hermetic protection,” the source explained. "The top of the drill came through the pressure hull and hit the non-gas-tight outer shell."
However, reports suggest the tiny drill hole first discovered in August could have been improperly sealed the first time and through negligence never properly attended to, per state media source RT, citing officials: "The makeshift sealant held for at least the two months the Soyuz spacecraft spent in orbit, before finally drying up and being pushed out of the hole by air pressure. The ISS crew had noticed the drop of pressure in late August."
The rapid depressurization reportedly set off an alarm, sending the entire crew to evacuate the Russian wing if the ISS, which involved locking down modules behind them. And further details of the hole's location, per state sources:
The hole was located near the toilet and covered by decorative fabric. Using an ordinary toothbrush and an endoscope, they found that only one of the two-millimeter cracks had actually pierced the hull and was leaking air.
Crew members later were able to use an "epoxy-based sealant with metallic additives to plug the hole" while guided by Mission Control.
Dmitry Rogozin, head of Russia's space agency has reportedly been engaging in phone talks concerning the problem with NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. Yet Rogozin, considered close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, turned heads by saying he still considers the possibility of sabotage a distinct possibility
Rogozin asked: "What was it: a defect or some intentional acts? Where were these acts carried out? On the Earth or already in orbit?"
"Yet again, I am saying: we are not dismissing anything," he controversially emphasized.