back to article Russia: The hole in the ISS Soyuz lifeboat – was it the crew wot dunnit?

The whodunnit over the hole in one of the International Space Station's Soyuz lifeboats took a lurch for the surreal this week as reports in Russian media suggested a US astronaut may have deliberately drilled it so the crew could return home. We'll just let that sink in for a moment. The report said that an American …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's easy to prove it wasn't an astronaut (or cosmonaut). They're all careful types who follow instruction manuals and would have used a rawlplug when doing DIY.

    1. Peter2 Silver badge

      It's probably even easier than that. What's the chance that there is actually a powerdrill on the ISS?

      One suspects that it's one of those items that they might not take with them given the size & weight can be better used for other things that they might be able to use.

      1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

        I'd imagine they'd have some sort of drill-driver, considering they may have to tighten bolts etc.

        1. Eddy Ito Silver badge

          They do and it wouldn't be too much of a stretch to think they also have a drill bit adapter to go on their PGT.

        2. Peter2 Silver badge

          On earth, you can use a power drill because your mass is pushed down by a large gravitational field which allows one to maintain their position with minimal effort.

          In orbit in microgravity, were you to try and tighten or loosen a bolt with a power drill then the effective mass of the person holding the drill is near zero. What's more likely to rotate when you apply the drill, the bolt or the astronaut?

          Some imagination suggests some interesting possibilities. If they do have a tool designed for that sort of purpose then i'd expect that it's going to be designed to be suction clamped to the surface to preclude it rotating the astronaut, but that itself would preclude the damage shown in the previous picture...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            "the effective mass of the person holding the drill is near zero"

            You mean the weight. Your mass doesn't change as long as your speed isn't relativistic. And the inertia that comes with it stays, too. Also, I'm sure handles on the walls help get a grip on things.

            1. Stevie Silver badge

              Your mass doesn't change as long as your speed isn't relativistic.

              I dunno. If watching Apollo 13 taught me anything, it is that in zero g one's mass can change, though you don't want to be floating next to one when it does.

          2. bombastic bob Silver badge
            Devil

            I still think it was done by a Russian technician

            who was trying to plug a leak by drilling down to where the leak was so he could put some kind of leak-stopping material in there. the hole would've been considered 'benign' and apparently it was covered up so it couldn't easily be seen.

            Then, the patch that was made on Earth failed, causing the recent leakage. Their fix was kinda like what I propose the original fix was - inject something into the hole to stop the leak, and cover it up.

            Occam's razor in this case.

            (not nearly as interesting as snarking all over it and pointing fingers and conspiracy theories)

            1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

              @bombastic bob Re: I still think it was done by a Russian technician

              Agreed. After all, who among us hasn't looked at a recently-completed DIY project, shrugged and uttered the words "nothing a little caulk won't fix"?

              1. JohnFen Silver badge

                Re: @bombastic bob I still think it was done by a Russian technician

                Caulk is so 20th century. The cool kids do their dodgy patching with hot glue these days.

            2. J. Cook Silver badge
              Devil

              Re: I still think it was done by a Russian technician

              @bombastic bob: I am in (rare) agreement with you. (On a side note, I think I saw a crate or two of wolly underthings addressed to hell over in the shipping department. :) )

          3. hplasm Silver badge
            Boffin

            ...suction clamped to the surface...

            Erm...space?

            1. Tony W

              Re: ...suction clamped to the surface...

              Erm ...there is still air, it hasn't all escaped yet.

            2. Spotswood

              Re: ...suction clamped to the surface...

              So, can you create a mini vacuum (suction) when already in a vacuum?

          4. Tomato Krill

            Well there's at least one tool for this problem, which is struck with a hammer face on to remove the need to turn it manually and this avoid this exact issue

          5. CommanderGalaxian
            Headmaster

            "effective mass of the person holding the drill"

            Not entirely sure that any large mechanical tools on board the space station requring quantum theory to be invoked.

            1. Danny 14 Silver badge

              not sure about you but if i needed to use a drill in space i would probably brace myself against something first. Sort of common sense and not really difficult regardless of your apparent weight.

      2. Gene Cash Silver badge

        > What's the chance that there is actually a powerdrill on the ISS

        Here's a cosmonaut repairing stripped screw on a spacesuit with a drill. It's not even a special PGT, it's an Earth-style battery powered drill.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WZtxph4Ntqs

        1. davenewman

          I see they have magnetised walls, so they can just stick tools there to stop them floating about.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            They used to use velcro ... until Apollo 1

            1. cray74 Silver badge

              They used to use velcro ... until Apollo 1

              They still use Velcro in space. The role of Velcro in ISS sandwich making

  2. Tigra 07 Silver badge

    Just where do you get these stock photos from? Are some of these Reg hacks?

    1. Craig 2

      RE: Just where do you get these stock photos from?

      Never mind where they come from, what the hell do you type as search keywords to get that headline image!

    2. Steve Button

      Shutterstock!

      It's like The Reg are paying a small fortune for a shutterstock account so they have to make the best use of it, and always come up with these shitty fucking condescending images.

      Not that it bothers me.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Shutterstock!

        and always come up with these shitty fucking condescending images....Not that it bothers me.

        Your choice of language suggests that it does.

        1. Steve Button

          Re: Shutterstock!

          yeah, that was sarcasm. It bothers me.

          But I guess it's just me. I'm sure going back 3 or 4 years the images were much more appropriate to the story, and not stretching some metaphor to death from the title. But perhaps I've just got more grumpy. :-)

          1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

            Re: Shutterstock!

            Yeah! Bring back the EEEPC girl!

          2. DropBear Silver badge

            Re: Shutterstock!

            "But I guess it's just me."

            Nope. That's what the rule blocking all of regmedia.co.uk is for. Bliss.

      2. JudeKay (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: Shutterstock!

        Us, condescending? Awww. We're so glad you were able to put your feelings into words like that. High five, champ!

        1. Steve Button

          Re: Shutterstock!

          Thumbs up from me too.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Shutterstock!

        You will also notice that the pictured drills have fastener fittings rather then the traditional boring tool. Just saying is all

        As an asside if you looked up "boring" in the old yellow pages it said "see Civil Engineers", that is until they complained

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Shutterstock!

        "It's like The Reg are paying a small fortune for a shutterstock account so they have to make the best use of it, and always come up with these shitty fucking condescending images."

        It sure beats images linked to/from Twitter.

        Some of us have Twitter and other social media blocked on our devices.

      5. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Shutterstock!

        "It's like The Reg are paying a small fortune for a shutterstock account so they have to make the best use of it, and always come up with these shitty fucking condescending images."

        A while ago, a Reg job advert had selecting and sourcing these images as part of the job description. I'm not sure if that post as been filled yet or not.

        Personally I'm of the school of thought that if the picture is not directly related to the article, don't put one there at all.

    3. JudeKay (Written by Reg staff)

      No, we're all much weaker than that bloke - though if you just take the mean amount of power tools each of us has, we probably have heaps more than him.

    4. Baz Baz

      It's worse than that, one is a jigsaw, and the other is a drill-driver. It's easy to get a photo of an actual cordless drill, for crying out loud.

      1. lglethal Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Considering the stupidity of the Russian media allegation, I think an equally stupid stock pic is highly appropriate!

        Keep it up El Reg! Some of us love the pics!

  3. Korev Silver badge
    Joke

    IT Infrastructure

    Just wondering, did they use Apache Drill?

  4. Steve Button

    Interviewed on Russia Today...

    ... the so-called Astronaut said he was not really an Astronaut and was only there as a tourist, as was just trying to get a better view of the lovely cathedrals back down on Earth.

    1. deive
      Thumb Up

      Re: Interviewed on Russia Today...

      Wish I could give more than 1 upvote for this :-)

    2. Stevie Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Interviewed on Russia Today...

      You are a bad man and will never get to heaven.

      Please have an E-Beer, awarded for drollery.

    3. el_oscuro

      Re: Interviewed on Russia Today...

      That astronaut was actually trying to hot wire the ship so he could take it to Mars.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Give Russia's reputation for poor workmanship

    It's a certainty that the hole was made during the build and only once in orbit did the drunk workers blob of RTV come off.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Give Russia's reputation for poor workmanship

      What kind of manufacturing process for a spaceship requires holes to be drilled in it with hand tools? Surely everything's pre-drilled these days? I know they're basically hand-built, due to low volumes made. But as the design hasn't changed that much, you'd have thought there'd be tooling for banging out the individual parts.

      Or is it like flat-pack furniture from the 80s. Where you got badly drawn instructions tellling you what sizes of drill bits and screwdrivers you needed, and you had to bodge it yourself.

      At least Ikea put a stop to that - despite using the cheapest, greyest toilet-roll-iest paper and keeping the drawings impossible to read.

      1. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: Give Russia's reputation for poor workmanship

        "Surely everything's pre-drilled these days?"

        Surely not. Pre-drilling is what you do when mass-producing things or if you need extreme accuracy in the hole placement. I'd be surprised if every hole that needs to be made is pre-drilled.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Give Russia's reputation for poor workmanship

          The linked Russian media article says the repair was done with medical gauze & sealant .....

          Then again, it also has a classic, paraphrasing : "we've asked the Americans for these records, but they're personal /private medical records, so we probably won't get them, but if we don't get them we'll know the Americans are hiding things from us and then there will be no need for us to ask any more questions (about whether the Americans did this)."

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Give Russia's reputation for poor workmanship

        "At least Ikea put a stop to that"

        I've had to re-drill Ikea components manufactured with half the holes out of place. But consistently manufactured that way - let it not be said that Ikea aren't consistent.

      3. lglethal Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Give Russia's reputation for poor workmanship

        Oh Spartacus... Dont let me tell you some of the stories i know from the aerospace world - you might never fly again! Lets put it this way, mistakes happen. When they happen, the technician writes up a concession, an engineer designs a fix, and the technician applies the fix and everyone moves forward.

        If there's an aircraft out there without at least a 1000 concessions on it (for all sorts of things, holes drilled in the wrong spot is just the easiest one), then I'll eat my hat... The Space biz, is no different...

        But dont worry, your still safe to fly... probably... ;)

  6. Come to the Dark Side

    Zero G

    Enquiring minds must know:

    If you hold a power drill against a surface, thereby creating friction, and/or resistance, in Zero G, will the drill penetrate the surface, or will the wielder spin around the drill?

  7. Mike Moyle Silver badge

    If it WAS an astro-/cosmonaut...

    ...I expect the story to show up in "Who, Me?" someday

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Zero G

      Assuming you're not joking and assuming that the astronaut doesn't anchor him/her self then there will be some element of the latter scenario.

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