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 …

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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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...

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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.

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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)

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Boffin

...suction clamped to the surface...

Erm...space?

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@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"?

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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.

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

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

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> 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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. :) )

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

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Anonymous Coward

They used to use velcro ... until Apollo 1

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They used to use velcro ... until Apollo 1

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

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

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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!

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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.

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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.

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(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.

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(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!

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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

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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. :-)

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Re: Shutterstock!

Yeah! Bring back the EEEPC girl!

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Re: Shutterstock!

"But I guess it's just me."

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

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Re: Shutterstock!

Thumbs up from me too.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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Joke

IT Infrastructure

Just wondering, did they use Apache Drill?

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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.

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Re: Interviewed on Russia Today...

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

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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.

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Re: Interviewed on Russia Today...

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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)."

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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.

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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... ;)

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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?

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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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DJO
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Re: Zero G

For a start there's no such thing as "zero G" (except perhaps at the centre of a star), the ISS is in free fall.

Secondly mass in unchanged whether in 0.001G or 1G or 100G and it's the amount of mass which matters.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Zero G

Not to mention: how do you hold the drill against the surface in the first place? On earth we have our own weight combined with friction on the floor. In space, it must be much more complicated to anchor oneself properly.

One other consideration: the tiny hole in the craft would need to be dealt with eventually. If someone really drilled the hole while in space, the tiny flakes of metal floating around would be my bigger concern. Inhaling those would not be fun.

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