NASA sought on Wednesday to tamp down speculation that sabotage caused a tiny hole found last month in the side of a Russian module docked at the International Space Station, but the mystery remained unsolved.
NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin are scheduled to launch Thursday, Oct. 11 for a same-day arrival, adding to the crew of Expedition 57. Highlights included an investigation to study ultra-cold quantum gases using the first commercial European facility for microgravity research and a system that uses surface forces to accomplish liquid-liquid separation.
Members of the Expedition 56 crew landing back on Earth. He wrote "spasibo" (thank you) and signed his name on the craft in chalk. They were also given fresh fruit.
The two-millimeters hole, which caused a slow pressure leak, was discovered on the Russian side of the orbital outpost.on August 29.
The International Space Station is a habitable artificial satellite in low Earth orbit.
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NASA and the Russian space agency are continuing to investigate the incident, and NASA said there are tentative plans to conduct a spacewalk next month to gather more information.
Last month, the Russian daily Kommersant reported that an investigation had probed the possibility that United States astronauts deliberately drilled the hole in order to get a sick colleague sent back home - something Russian officials later denied. Their tour of duty in space amounted to 197 days, highlighted by three spacewalks undertaken by Feustel and Arnold to replace and upgrade space station equipment.
The US space agency said that ruling out defects "does not necessarily mean the hole was created intentionally or with mal-intent".
Chawla and six fellow crew members died when the space shuttle Columbia was destroyed during re-entry into the atmosphere on February 1, 2003.