After being hit by an unknown object, the International Space Station experienced a drop in air pressure. At 220 miles up in space, that's not good.
Moscow and Houston mission flight controllers noticed the decrease in the spacecraft's pressure on Aug. 29 and discovered a 2mm hole after a day of searching the Russian section of the station. The hole may seem small. However, when left fixed, all air would have escaped in just 18 days.
About The Leak
"The leak has been isolated to a hole about two millimeters in diameter in the orbital compartment, or upper section, of the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft attached to the Rassvet module of the Russian segment," reported NASA.
To fix the damage, European Space Agency Astronaut Alexander Gerst initially put his finger to fill the gap.
"Right now Alex has got his finger on that hole and I don't think that's the best remedy for it," commented NASA's ground control in an ISS live feed.
When your spaceship suddenly starts leaking air, you fix the hole with duct tape & a gob of epoxy. Nice save, @Space_Station crew! https://t.co/1Va8idShJw pic.twitter.com/pxSJY6eNhc — Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield) August 30, 2018
While the team is still on the process of finding out a long-term solution for the leak, two Russian astronauts put sealant on a cloth over the hole. Their fellow crew members also took photos for the team on the ground.
Mission control advised the spacemen to give the sealant overnight to dry and promised that thorough leak checks would be conducted on Aug. 31. Fortunately, the temporary repair managed to stabilize the problem as of now. To make up for the lost air in the spacecraft, flight controllers used the oxygen supply of the Russian cargo capsule.
Cause Of The Leak
NASA still does not know what exactly hit the spacecraft, although it might possibly be a micrometeorite or flying debris. It could also just be a spot in the spacecraft that is weak enough to let go on its own.
Space junk orbiting around the planet poses a threat to ISS. Most are from non-operational spacecraft and satellites. Although experts have expressed about the danger, this is the first time that it has caused an actual damage.
More than 5,250 launches have happened since 1957. This made way to over 23,000 rogue orbiting objects around the planet. Currently, there are only 1,200 functioning satellites, all the others are rubbish.
A spokesman from the European Space Agency assured that all crew members are healthy and in good condition with weeks left of air supply.