International Space Station leak may have been caused by micrometeorite strike

International Space Station leak may have been caused by micrometeorite strike

The leak was slow and posed no danger to people on board, according to NASA, with mission control deciding that crew members could sleep before locating it.

Astronauts on board the International Space Station have managed to fix a tiny tear in the fabric of a Russian capsule that was letting oxygen leak into space.

Dmitry Rogozin, head of Russian space agency Roscosmos told state news agency TASS that a "micro-fracture" was found in a side compartment of the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft now docked with the space station.

The capsule arrived at the orbiting lab in June with three astronauts and it is due to take them home in December. "This is a section of the Soyuz that does not return to Earth", NASA explained.

Because the pressure loss was "very small", flight controllers determined that the astronauts and cosmonauts "are in no danger", officials with the European Space Agency (ESA) said in a separate statement.

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Both natural micrometeoroids (bits of rock left over from the formation of our solar system) and space debris (small pieces of spacecraft that still orbit Earth) are travelling at incredible speeds through space.

The Russian crew was going to apply an epoxy to the hole and seal it; however, Moscow officials eventually agreed to hold off and use a temporary patch, giving the temporary patch one hour before applying the sealant. But when an alarm rings out on the International Space Station, things are obviously a bit more serious. Flight controllers in Houston will continue to monitor the pressure in the station overnight.

The astronauts were asleep at the time, but when they rose for their day's work on Wednesday they were instructed to search for the leak. Feustel said the crew was testing a plug that was held in place with tape, and a Russian crewmate reported that the results looked promising.

This story will be updated.

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