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

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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Re: Zero G

Having the ISS control electronics inhale metal chips would be even less fun.

And, you're pointed out a way to look for where this happened - no loose chips would indicate the ground as a location for the drilling.

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Re: Zero G

"it's the amount of mass which matters"

Not when the drill breaks through and catches.

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Devil

Re: Zero G

this problem was solved in the 1960's during the Gemini program. They also had a drill-operated wrench, if I remember correctly. the back story, as I recall, was that they put a test rig filled with typical operations like turning wrenches and screwdrivers and using a drill into the back end of a gemini capsule where it had an equipment space set up for this kind of thing. An astronaut went outside in a suit and tried to do all that, but failed miserably. Then NASA came up with a brilliant plan of using a swimming pool to simulate zero gravity [which they've been doing ever since]. They rehearsed the mission, and tried it again, this time successful.

Anyway, a bit of NASA history from the dark spider-webbed recesses of my mind.

also mentioned (sort of) here

The swimming pool helped them 'get it right' with Gemini XII

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Re: Zero G

In space, no one can hear you ream

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Re: Zero G

So, according to Popular Mechanics, April edition 1964, they overcame the problem of reactive torque by designing a tool for the Gemini missions where the motor and motor casing rotated freely and were not locked to the tools framework it seems.

On the debris question, the answer is surprisingly low-tech and is basically "shaving foam around the area".

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Pint

Re: In space, no one can hear

You won't get many upvotes on this Hans. Everyone is an "engineer" and so has by definition, never actually bent metal for real.

But have an E-Beer.

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Happy

Re: Zero G

Ground Control to Major Tom

Get your toolkit out and put your face mask on.

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Re: Zero G

"it's the amount of mass which matters."

Not the moment of intertia?

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Re: Zero G

> no loose chips would indicate the ground as a location for the drilling.

Actually, if you watch the vid I linked above, you'll see the standard procedure is to set up a vacuum hose first, to collect the removed debris.

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Re: Zero G

"the tiny flakes of metal floating around would be my bigger concern. Inhaling those would not be fun."

Mine to, but not because of inhalation. I'd be MUCH more concerned about those tiny flakes of metal finding their way into electronics and shorting stuff out.

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Re: Zero G

I don't think that's an either-or question.

The torque force generated by the drilling will be equal in both the driller and drillee. If the resistance to that torque is equal on both sides, then both sides will spin. One would assume, though, that someone drilling a hole in the hull of the station would brace themselves against the station -- so the torque would have no net effect on the spin of the driller (or the station) at all.

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Re: Zero G

"In space, it must be much more complicated to anchor oneself properly."

I don't know. It seems to me that for ordinary hole-drilling, the procedure to properly anchor yourself would consist of "hold on to one of the many bracing handles attached to the station interior".

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Re: Zero G

Okay people, ask yourself the question: when I'm using a drill, does it rip my wrist off? Because that's where the force is going to be greatest (see Archimedes). If you don't feel it's actually in danger of spinning you round if you don't brace your stance for it then it's not going to be that much more difficult in space. You have a pretty big moment of inertia about point about shoulder level compared to a drill bit (spinning up freely) and the torque from friction is proportional to its (small) diameter.

If you're dealing with some monster two-handed masonry thing then yes, you have to make more effort, but again, if your arms can provide the counter-force where the leverage is shortest, your legs and the rest of your body can certainly provide it at a longer distance.

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Re: Zero G

"or will the wielder spin around the drill?"

The one benefit of this entire thread is imagining just that.

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Re: Zero G

"Not the moment of intertia?"

Inertia isn't just for moments. It goes on and on.

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If it WAS an astro-/cosmonaut...

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

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Holmes

Re: If it WAS an astro-/cosmonaut...

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

Episode 1 of Space Crash Investigation (see icon)

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Joke

Air is leaking out of the Soyuz capsule

This is not a drill.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Air is leaking out of the Soyuz capsule

That joke was a bit obvious

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Go

Re: Air is leaking out of the Soyuz capsule

ITYM "That joke were a bit obvious, chuck."

Only works with a North of England accent, possibly.

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Re: Air is leaking out of the Soyuz capsule

"Only works with a North of England accent"

There's no such thing. It's all the rest of you who have accents.

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Re: Air is leaking out of the Soyuz capsule

While the puns may be spiraling out of control, I raise a flute to you who would stick your neck out to land the puns, and do not fear a shank...

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Astronauts did it? Bullshit

Not sure how noisy the ISS interior is, but no one noticing someone drilling through the aluminium/steel hull of a docked and therefore acusically coupled capsule?

Given the visible scratches this would probably have been rather loud all over the ISS ...

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Re: Astronauts did it? Bullshit

It was noted that astronaut Idiot Plebstone asked for help whilst hanging an oil painting up just before the emergency ... or was it Igor Plebski? I always get those mixed up.

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Boffin

Re: Astronauts did it? Bullshit

The interior has all manner of equipment running with fans for cooling. It also has constant air circulation systems. In short, there's plenty of background noise.

Remember that with no (or negligible) gravity, heat doesn't rise (which way is up, anyway) so everything needs forced cooling. Similarly, there are fans in the sleeping quarters so that the astro/cosmonauts don't die of oxygen deficiency through inhaling the same air over and over again.

There's also plenty of padding on the walls (so people don't hurt themselves too much as well as for thermal insulation), so the sound will be deadened that way.

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Coat

Re: Astronauts did it? Bullshit

Aha! an outside job, then!

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Re: Astronauts did it? Bullshit

The ISS interior is quite noisy. Here's a discussion (and link to a recording of the noise): https://www.geek.com/geek-cetera/on-the-iss-no-one-can-hear-you-scream-because-of-the-noise-1533866/

However, things that bump/scrape against the hull of the station are readily detectable by everybody on board, as the structure transmits noise quite well. Astronauts say that they can easily hear/feel the motions of their colleagues engaging in spacewalks on the outside of the station.

I'm guessing that nobody can drill anything attached to the hull without everyone else knowing about it.

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Maybe it was a spy hole so they Russians could see Salisbury Cathedral better....

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FAIL

Stonehenge...

TBH the Russian tourist statement might have held a little more water if they'd said they were visiting Stonehenge, World Heritage site. Nothing against the Cathedral tho'. PP

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Happy

Re: Stonehenge...

Well it would have held a tad more weight if people who live in Russia hadn't claimed to be deterred from a ten minute walk by half an inch of snow and some slush!

I'm prepared to believe that foreigners might be terrified by trying to organise a barbeque in some of the weather we get in August, or by Scottish midges. Maybe even the appalling horror of leaves on the line. But not our arctic blasts of snow...

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Trollface

Re: Stonehenge...

It might have held more water if they hadn't drilled a hole in it !

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Anonymous Coward

And they could squirt more "perfume" through the same whole as well.

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Unhappy

We were not the audience

This nonsense is aimed at the people in Russia. Irritating everyone else is just an extra benefit.

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Was it a black hole?

(Yeah, yeah, I know, but someone had to ask and I didn't see that anyone had.)

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Devil

Conspiracy theory

Russia has made pretty bullish noises about dumping the ISS supply contract next year.

Meanwhile the quality of the more recent Soyuz craft has been coming under criticism.

If you wanted to dump an undesirable contract, what better way to erode confidence than to encourage bad quality and follow that up by sticking a spanner drill in the works?

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Russian tech workers are NOT paid very much

This sort of thing is par for the course.

There was a Proton that crashed because an accelerometer was installed upside down. You say "why don't they make the bracket so you can't install it upside down?"

Well, they did, and the worker just used a bigger hammer. Literally.

Also, there was a recent grounding of Russian rockets because the engine supplier had used a cheaper metal that wouldn't withstand launch, so they had to go through and inspect and replace all the engines.

I could post 10 or 15 more, and those are the ones I know of, way over here in America, so I'm sure there's dozens more I don't know about.

I'm 100% certain some tech did an oops and said "just JB weld that fucker" because actually admitting the error and getting it done proper would probably mean he'd lose his job.

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Re: Russian tech workers are NOT paid very much

"actually admitting the error and getting it done proper would probably mean he'd lose his job."

If that's true, that's a very, very serious failure of management. Literally everyone ever born makes mistakes. You want to encourage people to admit and correct them rather than hide them, especially in mission-critical situations.

Proper management would not be encouraging the fear of job loss for admitting mistakes. They would be encouraging the fear of job loss for covering up mistakes.

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Re: Russian tech workers are NOT paid very much

If that's true, that's a very, very serious failure of management. Literally everyone ever born makes mistakes. You want to encourage people to admit and correct them rather than hide them, especially in mission-critical situations.

However, it would be a relatively accurate description of, say, the USSR under Stalin. (Or, for balance, plenty of other times and places, see Challenger for example, not exactly a blatant denial of mistakes---Feynman eventually got it---so much as an institutional unwillingness to admit that anything could be wrong, but somewhere on the same scale.)

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People in gas houses don't drill...

Nevermind

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Joke

I wanted to get back to Earth

For I really was feeling quite rotten

So I took my power-drill to make

A hole in the Soyuz's bottom

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Hopefully the hole was drilled from the outside

That way the Russians will have to blame aliens instead.

It is normally clear whether a hole was made from one side or t'other.

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Re: Hopefully the hole was drilled from the outside

The hole was drilled from the inside, the bit skipped 15-20mm along the surface before biting, and the leak started while all the astronauts were asleep.

So either a crew member managed to get up and drill the hole during a sleep cycle without Mission Control or any other crew member noticing, or it happened during manufacture and somebody slapped a patch on it that started leaking a few months later.

The visible hole wasn't in the pressure hull either.

All the sane money is on a manufacturing defect in the pressure hull, and they drilled the hole to access the defect and squirt gunk over it.

Which eventually failed.

If roscosmos didn't have a totally disastrous management style, this would have been documented and known to NASA, they probably would have used the right kind of gunk so it wouldn't have leaked in the first place, and even if it had, the ISS crew would have been able to go straight to the leak and fix it immediately instead of searching for a few hours.

So yes, drilled on the ground.

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I&I

Re: Hopefully the hole was drilled from the outside

A suitably advanced alien hole could appear anywhere (e.g. floating inside the ISS) - not just as a hull-hole. No offence to Kingston upon...

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Drilled by an astronaut?

While in space? I sort of doubt it. I'll bet sound carries pretty well throughout the ISS. And given the mission planning involved with practically everything, "Who's running a power drill now?" would warrant some investigation.

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Anonymous Coward

Thats not a drill..

THIS is a drill.

https://tucson.com/business/local/ua-mining-lab-gets-a-giant-drill/article_ea2f4552-7061-56a0-88e0-1ba20bb6f201.html

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Coat

Nut Screws Washer and Bolts

Astronaut in space station shame.

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I&I

Memories of Soyuz 11’s depressurisation on return (though that was the capsule)

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soyuz_11

Just idly wondering, nothing more.

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Jon Oliver already figured it out

As seen on Last Week Tonight - it was the mice, but which one?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CitDs__alS0

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There was a statement on Russian TV

"We visited only ISS because have read of magnificent 408km altitude. We may have passed near Soyus we do not know where that is. We did not need to drill hole to evacuate novichok as we did not have any."

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