Russia launched controls after its space chief said an air leak on the International Space Station last week could have been deliberate sabotage.
The head of the space agency Dmitry Rogozin said that the hole detected on Thursday in a Russian spacecraft docked in the station of the orbit was caused by a drill and could have been done deliberately, either on Earth or by astronauts in space .
The astronauts used tape to seal the leak after it caused a small loss of pressure that was not life-threatening.
"There were several drilling attempts," Rogozin said Monday in televised comments, adding that the drill appeared to have been held up by a "shaky hand."
"What is this: a production defect or some premeditated actions?" I ask.
"We are checking the version of the Earth, but there is another version that we do not rule out: deliberate interference in space."
A state commission will seek to identify the culprit by name, Rogozin said, describing this as a "matter of honor" for the Russian space company Energiya that made the Soyuz.
When asked to comment on allegations of possible sabotage, a NASA spokeswoman forwarded all her questions to the Russian space agency that oversees the analysis of the commission.
& # 39; Weird trick & # 39;
Rogozin had said that the hole in the side of the ship used to transport astronauts was probably caused from the outside by a small meteorite, but then admitted that it had been discarded.
A Russian parliamentarian who was a former cosmonaut suggested that a psychologically disturbed astronaut might have done so to force him to return home early.
"We are all human, and anyone may want to go home, but this method is really low," Maxim Surayev, of the ruling party of President Vladimir Putin, told state news agency RIA Novosti.
"If a cosmonaut got this weird trick, and that can not be ruled out, it's really bad," said Surayev, who spent two seasons on the ISS.
"I wish God that this is a production defect, although that is very sad, there has been nothing like this in the history of Soyuz vessels."
Alexander Zheleznyakov, a former engineer and author of the space industry, told the state news agency TASS that drilling the hole in zero gravity would be almost impossible in that part of the spacecraft.
"Why would the cosmonauts do it?" I ask.
The hole is in a section of the Soyuz spacecraft that will not be used to transport astronauts to Earth.
A source in the space industry told TASS that the ship could have been damaged during the tests at the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan after passing the initial checks and that the error was hastily concealed.
"Someone got it wrong and then it got scared and sealed the hole," the source speculated, but then the sealant "dried up and fell" when the Soyuz arrived at the ISS.
Energiya will carry out verifications of possible defects on all Soyuz vessels and Progress unmanned vessels used for the cargo at its production site outside Moscow and Baikonur, RIA Novosti reported on Tuesday, citing sources from the space industry. .
The ISS is one of the few areas of cooperation between Russia and the United States that is not affected by the depression in relations and Washington's sanctions.
The Russian rockets used for the launch of spacecraft and satellites have suffered problems in the engine.
Currently in the ISS there are two Russian cosmonauts, three astronauts from NASA and one German from the European Space Agency.