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Cosmonaut shows space station hole to calm public as Moscow alleges sabotage

AFP-JIJI

A cosmonaut on Monday showed off a hole in the International Space Station that caused loss of oxygen after Russia suggested the leak could have been caused deliberately.

Cosmonaut Sergei Prokopyev posted a video on social media where he shows the small sealed hole in the wall of a Russian-made Soyuz space capsule docked onto the ISS.

“As you can see everything is calm on board, we are living in peace and friendship as always,” said the 43-year-old cosmonaut, who is on his first space mission.

The hole was located on Aug. 30 after an air leak on the orbiting space station, which is currently home to astronauts from Russia, the U.S. and Germany.

The head of the Russian space agency, Dmitry Rogozin, caused a sensation last week when he suggested the hole could have been drilled deliberately—- either back on Earth or in space.

A Russian MP who is a former cosmonaut said that the hole could have been drilled by an astronaut who was mentally unbalanced.

The Russian space agency has convened a commission to investigate the incident that it said will present conclusions in mid-September.

Photos of the hole had not been officially made public although NASA briefly posted an image in a video before deleting it.

The hole covered with dark sealant is hidden under a padded flap, Prokopyev showed in a video he said he had made to “dispel rumors.”

Prokopyev described how the astronauts discovered “a 2mm hole where our air was going out” and covered it with three layers of sealant.

“Please don’t worry we’re all right,” the smiling cosmonaut said, reassuring viewers that the module is now “completely hermetically sealed.

“As you can see, we can easily be in here without space helmets and no one is plugging the hole with a finger as they write in the media.”

The Soyuz spacecraft is used to ferry astronauts to and from the ISS. The hole is in a section that will not be used for the return journey to Earth.

Prokopyev’s video prompted grateful comments on his social media page, with Diana Apalikova writing: “You are doing really well. Yes, people did worry too much.”

Others joked about the incident, such as Alexey Bolkisev, who wrote: “Next time try drilling holes when you’re sober.”