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Russia: Space station air pressure restored after leak

August 31, 2018 7:23 PM
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Space station air pressure restored after leak that forced astronaut to plug hole with his FINGER

Russia's space agency says air pressure on the International Space Station has been restored to proper levels after a leak was repaired.

The leak, which was discovered Thursday, was traced to a small hole in one of the Russian Soyuz capsules docked at the station.

The 'micro fracture' believed to be around 2mm wide in the $150 billion (£115 billion) space station was discovered after astronauts noticed a drop in pressure.

European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst reportedly put his finger over the hole initially, before crew patched it with tape.

All members of the space station crew arrive and depart on Soyuz capsules.

He said that the fracture could be due to materials flaw or a micrometeorite strike.

'Flight controllers at their respective Mission Control centers in Houston and Moscow worked together with the crew to effect a repair option in which Soyuz commander Sergey Prokopyev of Roscosmos used epoxy on a gauze wipe to plug the hole identified as the leak source,' NASA later said.

The crew was also told to use a toothpick on the hole to aid photography and scale.

The International Space Station, or ISS, is a science and engineering laboratory that orbits 250 miles (400 km) above Earth.

It has been permanently staffed by rotating crews of astronauts and cosmonauts since November 2000.

Six men are currently orbiting Earth aboard the ISS, including NASA astronauts Drew Feustel, Ricky Arnold and Serena Aunon, as well as Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency and two Russian cosmonauts - Oleg Artemyev and Sergei Prokopyev.

Depressurisation is extremely dangerous for crews on board the ISS and this is not the first time a leak has happened in the ISS.

In 2007, another leak occurred in the station's Harmony module in the US section but officials said at the time the leak was no cause for concern.

'The crew are healthy and safe with weeks of air left in the International Space Station reserves,' ESA officials said in the statement following this latest leak.


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