How did the astronauts study the hole on the Soyuz

How did the astronauts study the hole on the Soyuz

Red marked the hole in the Soyuz spacecraft, which led to a drop in pressure on the ISS in August 2018. Kononenko and Prokopiev removed the protective layers in order to study the hole during the spacewalk on December 11, 2018

On December 11, two Russian astronauts ventured to go beyond the limits of the International Space Station to investigate the source of pressure leakage caused by a hole in the Soyuz spacecraft. Oleg Kononenko and Sergey Prokopiev spent 7 hours and 45 minutes in open space, working on the outside of the ship, where in August they managed to fix the problem with the hole.

On August 29, the controllers controlling the systems of the space station from Earth, for the first time, noticed a slight pressure loss in the cockpit aboard the orbital laboratory. The crew of the Expedition 56 was able to find a 2-mm hole in the Soyuz spacecraft, docked with the Dawn module in the Russian station segment.

After the consultation, Prokopiev used epoxy resin with a gauze napkin and closed the opening. Repair stopped the leak, and the ISS maintained normal pressure. On December 11, Prokopiev joined Kononenko to study the damaged area outside and find out exactly what caused the leak.

To get to the right place, I had to go around the Arrow, moving from the Pierce compartment to Zara, and then to the Union. At the workplace, the astronauts took turns using a knife and a pair of long scissors to remove the insulation layers. During operation, small pieces of cut material floated into space.

How did the astronauts study the hole on the Soyuz

Cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko (with red stripes) and Sergey Prokopiev (blue stripes) removed the outer layers of isolation in the Soyuz spacecraft during their entry into open space on December 11 to investigate the source of pressure loss

Then the astronauts cut and pushed off a thin orbital screen to open the location of the hole. In the photo, the hole looks like a small black mark. Kononenko used tongs and a tampon to collect dark epoxy resin samples. Samples are packed and sent to Earth. The spacewalk lasted longer than expected, so the controllers refused to install a replacement insulating gasket.

How did the astronauts study the hole on the Soyuz

Another view of Kononenko and Prokopyev while working near the Soyuz capsule in outer space on December 11, 2018

It was the fourth spacewalk for Kononenko (generally spent 26 hours and 12 minutes) and the second for Prokopyev (15 hours and 31 minutes). On December 19, Prokopiev and Serina Aunon-Chancellor should return to Earth after 6.5 months aboard the ISS. Kononenko will remain on the ISS with McClain Ann Charlotte and David Saint-Jacques. On February 28, Alexey Ovchinin, Tyler Haig and Christina Hammok Koch should join them.

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