Russian spacecraft has cut samples of material around a mysterious hole in a spaceship hooked to the International Space Station (ISS), which has been at the center of sinister rumors and conspiracy theories.
The Roscosmos space agency said the goal was to find out if the "small but dangerous" hole was made on Earth or in space.
The 2-millimeter cavity of the Russian Soyuz spacecraft, hung in the space corridor, was opened on August 30 after the air was discovered two months after the last voyage of the vessel.
The rumors that the hole could be the work of a saboteur began after Rogozmos's head Dmitry Rogozin dismissed the manufacturing error and failed to rule out the possibility of "deliberate interference in space".
A theory reported in Russian media is that American astronauts deliberately broke the hole to make a sick colleague come back home.
How does a small round hole break into a Russian Soyuz capsule? Was this a manufacturing error? Was it, as Russian media say, a NASA astronaut trying to force the evacuation of the International Space Station? https://t.co/hLH8xaAQfh
– NYT Science (@NYTScience) December 11, 2018
Until Tuesday, astronauts were able to check the hole of the spacecraft.
During the seven hours, a 45-minute walk, veteran veterans Oleg Kononenko and Sergey Prokopiev struggled, but eventually managed to remove the insulation covering the hole and take a sample for analysis.
Particularly difficult is that the Soyuz spacecraft, unlike the ISS, is not designed to be repaired in space flights, and there are no external rails that astronauts adhere to.
"There is nothing, that's the problem," Kononenko said before leaving.
Mr Rogozin said in October that the investigation had ruled out a manufacturing error. He had said earlier that Russia did not exclude "intentional interference in space".
Russian media reported that the investigation explores the possibility of US astronauts deliberately drilling the hole to make a sick colleague come back home.
Russian officials later rejected these reports.
The opening of the hole was followed in October by the failure of the pilot-launched Soyuz pilot, although Russian and American astronauts returned safely to Earth.
The samples will be sent to Earth to "get to the truth" of the origin of the cavity, the space agency said.
The astronauts also took pictures and shot a video before releasing new isolation in the area.
The space walk was the fourth one for Kononenko and the second for Prokopiev.
Mr. Rogozin called the mission "unprecedented in its complexity" on Twitter, and Roscosmos said he would "enter the history of space research."
The Soyuz spacecraft is used to transport astronauts to and from the ISS. The hole is in a section that will not be used to return to Earth on December 20th.
IAS is one of the few areas of Russian-American cooperation that remains unaffected by the decline in Washington's relations and sanctions.