The small hole discovered in the International Space Station was drilled deliberately, the Russian space agency has said.
The air leak was detected on Wednesday night when it caused a drop in cabin pressure.
German astronaut Alexander Gerst put his finger over the hole as crew members quickly patched it up with tape. It was discovered in the Russian Soyuz capsule, which was used to bring three crewmen to the station on June 8.
If it had not been found, the astronauts on board the ISS would have run out of air in 18 days.
Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin has now said that the hole was drilled by “an unsteady hand” – potentially during manufacturing.
But he said that it was also possible that the hole was drilled while the capsule was already in orbit. He didn’t say if he suspected one of the astronauts.
A former Russian cosmonaut suggested the hole could have been drilled by a homesick or mentally unstable astronaut.
Maxim Suraev told Russia’s International News Agency RIA Novosti: “All of us are living people, everyone can want to go home, but this way is completely unworthy.”
Three Americans, two Russians and a German are currently aboard the station.
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