Earlier this month, two Russian cosmonauts conducted a spacewalk to investigate the mysterious hole in a capsule docked to the International Space Station.
Mysterious Hole Drilled From Inside Soyuz Capsule
On Monday, one of the cosmonauts, Sergei Prokopyev, said that the opening was drilled from inside the Soyuz capsule visiting the space station.
He also said law enforcement agencies in Russia are now probing into what caused it.
Prokopyev, who is now back on Earth, said investigators were looking at the samples that he and crewmate Oleg Kononenko collected during the nearly eight hours spacewalk on Dec. 12.
Prokopyev said at a news conference that the cavity stemmed from the interior of the capsule. He said it will be up to the investigative organs to judge when the hole was made.
Back From 197-Day Space Station Mission
Prokopyev is now back on Earth. He and two other Expedition 57 crew members returned last week from a 197-day mission at the orbiting laboratory.
The hole did not pose a danger to Prokopyev and crewmates Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency and Serena Aunon-Chancellor of NASA during their return trip to Earth because the section of the capsule where the hole was found was discarded before the spacecraft's re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere.
The hole inside the habitation module of the Soyuz spacecraft was discovered on Aug. 30 after crew members experienced a slight drop in pressure. Crew members fixed the leak by plugging the hole with epoxy and gauze.
Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin said in September that the hole may have been made either during the manufacturing process or in orbit. The latter theory led to speculations of sabotage, which caused a friction between the Russian space agency and NASA.
"What is this: a production defect or some premeditated actions?" Rogozin asked during a television interview. "We are checking the Earth version. But there is another version that we do not rule out: deliberate interference in space."
Prokopyev scoffed at the idea a space station astronaut drilled the hole.
"You shouldn't think so badly of our crew," he said.