Watch Cosmonauts Investigate a Mysterious Air Leak Using Five Tools

Two Russian cosmonauts slipped on their spacesuits and ventured outside the walls of the International Space Station on Tuesday. Their mission? Investigate a mysterious air leak that has since baffled space agencies and even sparked conspiracy theories about possible space sabotage. You can check out the footage in the video above.

Filling the frame you’ll find Oleg Kononenko and Sergey Prokopyev, of Roscosmos, who together were tasked with inspecting an area on the external hull of the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft starting at 11 a.m. Eastern. Back in August, the capsule that ferries astronauts to and from the station was found to have a suspicious, 2-millimeter-wide hole that was causing the ISS to lose internal pressure. The leak was patched, but its origin remains a mystery and the two cosmonauts are on the hunt for any clues as to what could have caused it.

The duo’s mission required some innovative use of tools that you can incidentally find in pretty much any suburban garage. They cut and sliced through Soyuz’s multiple protective layers to cover the hole. Then they took samples of the exterior that will be sent back to Earth for examination, according to the Russian news agency TASS. The entirety of the six-hour operation was live streamed.

The Roscosmos graphic detailing the steps of the spacewalk.


A Roscosmos graphic that Inverse translated using Google Translate and verified with a translator lists the everyday tools Kononenko and Prokopyev used to pull off this spacewalk. All of them had to be tethered to the cosmonauts’ spacesuits to keep them from floating away.

A Cutter, that looks a lot like a switchblade.
Clamping Pliers
Metal Cutting Scissors
A Sampler, which will hold anything they find.
Curved Forceps

This initial step is part of a joint investigation that NASA and Roscosmos are conducting to find out if the source of the leak was caused by debris, structural flaws, or tampering.

The hole was initially attributed to a micrometeoroid punching through Soyuz. But it was also so perfectly circular that many observed that it like seemed a hole had been drilled clean through. There’s been chatter that it could have been unintended damage made during ground prep. Neither NASA or Roscosmos are saying much about the claims until an investigation is carried out.

“[NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and Roscosmos General Director Dmitry Rogozin] affirmed the necessity of further close interaction between NASA and Roscosmos technical teams in identifying and eliminating the cause of the leak,” stated a press release from both agencies. “As well as continuation of normal ISS operations and NASA’s ongoing support of the Roscosmos-led Soyuz investigation.”

Both organizations are working to get to the bottom of space mystery that has gripped aerospace professionals, journalists, and space travel fans around the world.

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