Hole-y ship: ISS 'nauts take a wander to crack Soyuz driller whodunnit

In Soviet Russia, comrade find small hole by making much bigger hole


Spacewalking cosmonauts clambered outside the ISS yesterday to get an external view of the mystery hole drilled into the Soyuz, which is due to return three crew members to Earth next week.

Roscosmos flight engineers Oleg Kononenko (fresh from his launch aboard Soyuz MS-11 earlier this month) and Sergey Prokopyev popped open the hatch of the Pirs docking compartment of the ISS at 15:59 UTC on 11 December in order to get up close and personal with the orbital module of the penetrated Soyuz.

A leak was detected in late August when ground controllers noted a worrying drop in pressure aboard the orbital outpost. The crew hunted around the station and eventually found a hole in the wall of the orbital module of the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft. The hole, which looked suspiciously like it had been created with a drill, was patched, and the Soyuz declared fit for purpose.

Russia has, however, wanted to take a look at the hole from the outside in order to understand how it got there. We'd suggest that somebody got a bit careless with a drill on the production line and tried to cover their mistake with filler, which popped out once on orbit. Others have speculated that maybe it was the ISS crew wot dunnit, a theory that attracted a suitably withering response from then-commander Drew Feustel.

Attached to foot restraints on a Strela crane, Kononenko had a go at the insulation of the Soyuz. The veteran cosmonaut, secure in the knowledge that he wouldn't be riding the thing back to Earth, used scissors and then a knife to cut through to the metal hull of the Soyuz module in search of the hole.

Looking on, Prokopyev joked that he couldn't watch as it was "his" spacecraft being ripped into while sharp-edged tools floated around the cosmonauts.

The duo eventually extracted a briefcase-sized chunk of insulation to reveal the site of the hole. Photos were snapped and samples taken to aid ground-based engineers in their investigation, although it appears that the risky spacewalk may have been for naught as there was little visible to add to what was already known.

With time running short, the 'nauts headed back inside the ISS, closing the airlock hatch at 23:44 UTC, marking the end of the 213th EVA in support of the station.

Soyuz MS-09 is expected to depart the station next week, carrying ESA's Alexander Gerst, NASA's Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Sergey Prokopyev back to Earth. The crew, sealed inside the descent module of Soyuz, will be in no danger from the mystery hole, since the orbital (or habitation) module is jettisoned just after the spacecraft completes its re-entry burn. ®


Other stories you might like

  • China’s COVID lockdowns bite e-commerce players
    CEO of e-tail market leader JD perhaps boldly points out wider economic impact of zero-virus stance

    The CEO of China’s top e-commerce company, JD, has pointed out the economic impact of China’s current COVID-19 lockdowns - and the news is not good.

    Speaking on the company’s Q1 2022 earnings call, JD Retail CEO Lei Xu said that the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic had brought positive effects for many Chinese e-tailers as buyer behaviour shifted to online purchases.

    But Lei said the current lengthy and strict lockdowns in Shanghai and Beijing, plus shorter restrictions in other large cities, have started to bite all online businesses as well as their real-world counterparts.

    Continue reading
  • Foxconn forms JV to build chip fab in Malaysia
    Can't say when, where, nor price tag. Has promised 40k wafers a month at between 28nm and 40nm

    Taiwanese contract manufacturer to the stars Foxconn is to build a chip fabrication plant in Malaysia.

    The planned factory will emit 12-inch wafers, with process nodes ranging from 28 to 40nm, and will have a capacity of 40,000 wafers a month. By way of comparison, semiconductor-centric analyst house IC Insights rates global wafer capacity at 21 million a month, and Taiwanese TSMC’s four “gigafabs” can each crank out 250,000 wafers a month.

    In terms of production volume and technology, this Malaysian facility will not therefore catapult Foxconn into the ranks of leading chipmakers.

    Continue reading
  • NASA's InSight doomed as Mars dust coats solar panels
    The little lander that couldn't (any longer)

    The Martian InSight lander will no longer be able to function within months as dust continues to pile up on its solar panels, starving it of energy, NASA reported on Tuesday.

    Launched from Earth in 2018, the six-metre-wide machine's mission was sent to study the Red Planet below its surface. InSight is armed with a range of instruments, including a robotic arm, seismometer, and a soil temperature sensor. Astronomers figured the data would help them understand how the rocky cores of planets in the Solar System formed and evolved over time.

    "InSight has transformed our understanding of the interiors of rocky planets and set the stage for future missions," Lori Glaze, director of NASA's Planetary Science Division, said in a statement. "We can apply what we've learned about Mars' inner structure to Earth, the Moon, Venus, and even rocky planets in other solar systems."

    Continue reading
  • The ‘substantial contributions’ Intel has promised to boost RISC-V adoption
    With the benefit of maybe revitalizing the x86 giant’s foundry business

    Analysis Here's something that would have seemed outlandish only a few years ago: to help fuel Intel's future growth, the x86 giant has vowed to do what it can to make the open-source RISC-V ISA worthy of widespread adoption.

    In a presentation, an Intel representative shared some details of how the chipmaker plans to contribute to RISC-V as part of its bet that the instruction set architecture will fuel growth for its revitalized contract chip manufacturing business.

    While Intel invested in RISC-V chip designer SiFive in 2018, the semiconductor titan's intentions with RISC-V evolved last year when it revealed that the contract manufacturing business key to its comeback, Intel Foundry Services, would be willing to make chips compatible with x86, Arm, and RISC-V ISAs. The chipmaker then announced in February it joined RISC-V International, the ISA's governing body, and launched a $1 billion innovation fund that will support chip designers, including those making RISC-V components.

    Continue reading
  • FBI warns of North Korean cyberspies posing as foreign IT workers
    Looking for tech talent? Kim Jong-un's friendly freelancers, at your service

    Pay close attention to that resume before offering that work contract.

    The FBI, in a joint advisory with the US government Departments of State and Treasury, has warned that North Korea's cyberspies are posing as non-North-Korean IT workers to bag Western jobs to advance Kim Jong-un's nefarious pursuits.

    In guidance [PDF] issued this week, the Feds warned that these techies often use fake IDs and other documents to pose as non-North-Korean nationals to gain freelance employment in North America, Europe, and east Asia. Additionally, North Korean IT workers may accept foreign contracts and then outsource those projects to non-North-Korean folks.

    Continue reading
  • Elon Musk says Twitter buy 'cannot move forward' until spam stats spat settled
    A stunning surprise to no one in this Solar System

    Elon Musk said his bid to acquire and privatize Twitter "cannot move forward" until the social network proves its claim that fake bot accounts make up less than five per cent of all users.

    The world's richest meme lord formally launched efforts to take over Twitter last month after buying a 9.2 per cent stake in the biz. He declined an offer to join the board of directors, only to return asking if he could buy the social media platform outright at $54.20 per share. Twitter's board resisted Musk's plans at first, installing a "poison pill" to hamper a hostile takeover before accepting the deal, worth over $44 billion.

    But then it appears Musk spotted something in Twitter's latest filing to America's financial watchdog, the SEC. The paperwork asserted that "fewer than five percent" of Twitter's monetizable daily active users (mDAUs) in the first quarter of 2022 were fake or spammer accounts, which Musk objected to: he felt that figure should be a lot higher. He had earlier proclaimed that ridding Twitter of spam bots was a priority for him, post-takeover.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022