Astronauts scrambled Thursday to patch a tiny hole that was allowing air to leak from the Russian side of the International Space Station.
NASA and Russian space officials stressed the six astronauts were in no danger.
The leak was detected Wednesday night — possibly from a micrometeorite strike — resulting in a small loss of cabin pressure. It was traced to a hole about 2 millimeters (less than one-tenth of an inch) across in the most recent Soyuz capsule docked at the space station.
Thursday morning, the crew taped over the hole, slowing the leak. Flight controllers monitored the cabin pressure while working to come up with a better long-term solution.
The leaking Soyuz — one of two up there — arrived at the orbiting lab in June with three astronauts. It’s their ride home, too, come December, and also serves as a lifeboat in case of an emergency. A NASA spokesman said it was premature to speculate on whether the three might have to return to Earth early if the leak, even as small as it is, cannot be stopped.
The hole is located in the upper section of the Soyuz, which does not return to Earth, according to NASA.
The 250-mile-high outpost is home to three Americans, two Russians and one German. Orbital debris is a constant threat to spacecraft, even the tiniest specks.
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