Nasa and the Russian space agency have refused to reveal their “preliminary conclusions” on what caused a mysterious leak in the International Space Station.
At the end of August, astronauts on board the ISS found that the floating lab was losing air becuase of a hole in the wall between them and space. Initially, authorities suggested the hole had been caused by space debris – but that conclusion appears to have been largely rejected, amid suggestions that it was in fact done by a human, either on Earth or in space.
Since then, speculation has been rife about how the hole came to have been made and whether it could indicate any more general problems for the crew on board the space station. The issue was found in part of the spacecraft that also includes the capsule that will carry the astronauts back down to Earth.
The mystery has led to conspiracy theories including a fast-spreading and baseless story that Nasa astronauts drilled a hole in the space station to force the evacuation of a sick crew member.
The bosses of Roscosmos and Nasa met to discuss the strange incident and agreed they would work together to find the cause of the leak. But any conclusions would not be shared until there is a final resolution, Nasa said.
“The Administrator and the General Director noted speculations circulating in the media regarding the possible cause of the incident and agreed on deferring any preliminary conclusions and providing any explanations until the final investigation has been completed,” Nasa said in a statement.
“They affirmed the necessity of further close interaction between NASA and Roscosmos technical teams in identifying and eliminating cause of the leak, as well as continuation of normal ISS operations and NASA’s ongoing support of the Roscosmos-led Soyuz investigation. They acknowledged the entire crew is dedicated to the safe operation of the station and all docked spacecraft to ensure mission success.”
The commander of the International Space Station said that it was “a shame and somewhat embarrassing” that people were suggesting the crew might have had something to do with the hole.
“I can unequivocally say that the crew had nothing do with this,” astronaut Drew Feustel said during a space-to-ground interview with ABC News. “I think it’s absolutely a shame and somewhat embarrassing that anybody is wasting any time talking about something that the crew was involved in.”