Two Russian cosmonauts are preparing to head off the International Space Station to investigate a mysterious leak.
He was spotted on August 30 at Soyuz, the Russian space airline, attached to the station. The crew quickly finds and seals the small hole that creates a slight pressure loss. Space officials said the station was safe to operate.
Oleg Koninenko and Sergey Prokopiev will hold a six-hour space to inspect Soyuz's exterior for Tuesday. They will reveal the heat insulation covering the glued hole and take samples that will be examined by experts.
Kononenko, who arrived at the station this month with Nasha Anne McCain's astronaut and David Saint Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency, said the space flight would be an endeavor. "It will cause challenges both physically and technically," he said.
Dmitry Rogozin, chief executive of the Russian state space agency Roscosmos, said in September that the hole could be deliberately pierced during production or while in orbit. He did not say if he suspected any of the crew, but the statement caused some confusion.
Rogozin has since said he has never blamed astronauts in the United States for leakage and accused the media of distorting his words.
The official Russian investigation continued, he said, and some of the crew at the station, who had to return to Earth this month, would take the samples collected during the space flight. Roscosmos will discuss the results of the investigation with NASA and other space station partners, Rogozin said.