The hole discovered in Russia’s International Space Station last week was likely deliberately drilled to destroy the mission, space agency officials said Tuesday.
Astronauts last week noticed a drop in pressure caused by a small hole and thought the gap was caused by a tiny meteorite, the country’s space agency chief told Phys.org. An astronaut ended up using his finger to temporarily plug it up.
But the hole may have been a cosmically twisted plot to sabotage the satellite — possibly carried out by a psychologically disturbed astronaut who wanted to go home early, the science news outlet reported, citing experts and government officials
“If a cosmonaut pulled this strange stunt — and that can’t be ruled out — it’s really bad,” said Maxim Surayev of President Vladimir Putin’s ruling party to the state-run RIA Novosti news agency, according to the outlet.
“We’re all human, and anyone might want to go home, but this method is really low,” he said.
A drill capable of making the hole was stored on the craft, he said.
If the hole hadn’t been spotted, astronauts would have run out of air in 18 days, according to the UK Telegraph.
It’s also possible the drilling occurred while the space station was still grounded on Earth, said space agency chief Dmitry Rogozin.
“There were several attempts at drilling,” he said. “There is a version that we do not rule out: deliberate interference in space.”
When the leak was detected last week, one astronaut on board, Alexander Gerst, first plugged it with his finger. The crew then patched up the hole with a rubber plug made from duct tape, gauze and a vacuum-proof sealant, the Telegraph reported.
Roscosmos, a state-run Russian space agency, launched an investigation to find a possible culprit.
This story originally appeared in the New York Post.