What would you do if you are in a spacecraft orbiting the Earth at an altitude of 400km and you discover a hole causing pressure leakage? You would actually panic because of the numerous space movies where spacecraft explode or crash when there a hole or a crack, etc. A similar situation happened onboard the International Space Station (ISS) when astronauts were sleeping after a hectic day preparing for yet another hectic day they had ahead.
The incident happened on Thursday when flight controllers on the Earth recorded a dip in the cabin pressure caused due to a potential ‘hole’ but the problem was tagged as ‘too small’ to actually wake up the astronauts. But later, astronauts were woken up to a surprise that there is a hole somewhere on the ISS and they had to find it.
The crew set out of a quest to find the tiny hole and soon, they found that the hole with a size of 2 millimeter in diameter in the Soyuz MS-09 capsule caused due to micrometeorites hitting the space station which is a common issue faced by the ISS and the satellites orbiting the Earth. The hole was located in the upper section i.e. orbital compartment of the Soyuz capsule which is scheduled to return in December this year with three of the astronauts and thus, the problem must be fixed right now.
This is when a fellow astronaut used his thumb to plug the hole until the epoxy/sealant was applied to plug the hole along with Kapton tape that was used to cover the hole. After treating the tiny 2-millimeter wide hole, the leakage was minimized. As of now, flight controllers on the Earth along with the crew members of ISS are troubleshooting a more long-term repair for the hole since it will ply astronauts back to the Earth in December 2018 in Kazakisthan.