The locations of visiting vehicles currently docked at the International Space Station. Credit: NASA

A leak on board the International Space Station – ISS – has been fixed after the source was traced to the Russian segment of the orbital complex.


NASA, in a statement early Aug. 30, said that controllers first noticed a minor drop in air pressure within the station at around 7 p.m. Eastern Aug. 29. Flight controllers allowed the crew to continue sleeping since the pressure drop did not pose an immediate risk to the crew, who were notified of the problem when they woke up at their regular time.

The station’s crew traced the drop in air pressure to a hole about two millimeters in diameter in the orbital module of the Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft docked to the station. They covered the hole with a piece of Kapton tape to slow the rate of the leak temporarily.

Now, working inside the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft docked with the station’s Earth-facing Rassvet module, cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev and Sergey Prokopyev have more permanently sealed the 2-millimeter (0.08-inch) opening with a wipe saturated in an epoxy sealant, stemming what NASA described as a “minute pressure leak.”

Russian space officials have said that the puncture was caused by a micrometeoroid, but NASA has not confirmed this. The leak itself was – relatively speaking – very small and non-life threatening, with communications to the crew noting that it would take 18 days at the maximum leak rate to deplete the oxygen tank reserves on the Station. Meaning the leak was not an immediate threat to the crew or the Station.

Update 20180906:

Russian Space Agency Roskosmos has announced that it is now certain that the hole in one of their Soyuz craft discovered last week was caused by a mistake by a technician back on Earth.

“We are able to narrow down the cause to a technological mistake of a technician. We can see the mark where the drill bit slid along the surface of the hull. We want to find out the full name of who is at fault—and we will.”

“I have conducted investigations of all kinds of spacecraft, and after landing, we discovered a hole drilled completely through the hull of a re-entry module. But the technician didn’t report the defect to anyone but sealed up the hole with epoxy. We found the person, and after a commotion he was terminated.”