BFF-66 Russia denies suspecting US astronauts of drilling hole on space station

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BFF-66

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Russia denies suspecting US astronauts of drilling hole on space station

MOSCOW, Sept 12, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – Russia on Wednesday reacted angrily to a
report that it suspects US astronauts of deliberately drilling a hole on the
International Space Station, one of the few remaining areas of cooperation
between the countries.

The hole was detected on the ISS last month and quickly sealed up, but
Russia has suggested that it was drilled deliberately.

Russian daily Kommersant reported Wednesday that a Russian space agency
investigation is probing the possibility US astronauts deliberately drilled
the hole in order to get a sick colleague sent back home.

Kommersant reported that this scenario was being looked into “as a
priority,” quoting a source participating in the investigation.

But deputy prime minister Yury Borisov rejected Kommersant’s report,
saying that “it is absolutely unacceptable to cast a shadow either on our
cosmonauts or on American astronauts,” RIA Novosti state news agency
reported.

The deputy prime minister said it was “shortsighted and dangerous” to
speculate until the findings of the investigation were released.

He also stressed the ISS was “a unified group where there are no political
disagreements.”

Russian space agency Roscosmos told AFP it would make no official comment
until the findings are released, which is expected to happen this month.

Astronauts located the hole on August 30 in a Russian-made spacecraft
docked to the ISS after an air leak was detected onboard, and closed it up
with sealant.

Space agency chief Dmitry Rogozin told journalists last week that the hole
could have been a deliberate act of sabotage and suggested this could have
happened in space as well as back on Earth.

On Wednesday Rogozin wrote on Facebook that “spreading speculation and
rumours about the incident on the ISS doesn’t help the experts at Roscosmos
and is aimed at undermining relations between comrades in the space station
crew.”

He told journalists Tuesday that initial findings showed “the situation is
much more complicated than it seemed before.”

The ISS crews are ferried to and from the space station in Russian Soyuz
spacecraft. The hole was drilled in a section of a Soyuz that will not be
used for the return journey to Earth.

BSS/AFP/SSS/1906 hrs