Gizmodo's Report: ISS Hole Drilled From the Inside, Cosmonaut Says has made me realize I've lost track of the hole. It was in the part of a Soyuz spacecraft docked to the ISS wouldn't contain the crew during reentry, and recently the capsule segment of a Soyuz spacecraft has returned to Earth after the spacewalk happened to check out the outside of the hole.

But I don't know if the returning craft is the "holy craft" or a different one; the ISS was looking like a parking garage recently with so many spacecraft docked to it.

So is the hole still at the ISS, or has it been released to LEO, or re-entered the atmosphere? Where is the hole now?

below: screenshot from a recent Roscosmos tweet of cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev (presumably) talking about the lead detection and repair and showing an ULD? (I can't speak Russian, but presumably this is correct.) Translating the text using Google:

"Friends, I decided to shoot a video to answer your numerous comments and dispel rumors. Everything is calm on the ISS! "

cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev and ultrasonic leak detector

below: from @BowlOfRed's answer, Source

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below: from this answer, Source?

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below: from With six spacecraft currently docked at the ISS, how could Santa (or anyone else) deliver presents?, Source.

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1 Answer 1


The damaged craft is a Soyuz-MS which is limited to 210 days1 docked at ISS. Because of this limitation it was the next to deorbit. Since the hole was in the orbital module and not the reëntry module there were no special concerns regarding the return to Earth. The craft, MS-09, returned safely to Earth on 20 December 2018, landing at 05:03 UTC.

Both the orbital module and service modules are released after the deorbit burn so both would have burned up in the atmosphere around the time of the descent module's reëntry and crashed about 830km short of the crew's landing site. Based on the ISS orbital track and reëntry time, it seems the hole (or what's left of it) is currently in one of the 'stans (probably somewhere in south-west Kazakhstan)2.

1 This limitation is due to the use of Hydrogen Peroxide in the reëntry module's attitude control thrusters. This fuel decomposes over time (into water and oxygen). If the fuel fully decomposes then return to Earth is still possible but only via ballistic descent. This answer and this one go into more detail. (thanks to uhoh for the first link).

2 Reëntry was from the south-west heading into central Kazakhstan.

Soyuz reëntry
Source: NASA TV

Typical Soyuz reëntry track Source: NASA via Russian Space Web
Based on the ISS track from this site, the path of MS-09 was about 250 km to the north-west with the track crossing the center of (what's left of) the Aral Sea. I do not know the precise landing location for MS-09.

This page discusses Soyuz reëntries in detail.

  • $\begingroup$ Are you sure about that If the fuel fully decomposes then return to Earth is still possible but only via ballistic descent I asked a follow up. space.stackexchange.com/questions/33101/… $\endgroup$
    – Antzi
    Commented Dec 26, 2018 at 9:48
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Antzi Pretty darned sure. This scenario is actually shown in the diagram above. I'll take a look at your question though. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 26, 2018 at 9:51
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexHajnal Please do not rollback correct edits that correct wrong spelling. this will only lead to edit wars. $\endgroup$
    – Polygnome
    Commented Dec 29, 2018 at 13:45
  • $\begingroup$ @Polygnome The spelling used is one of the three valid options in English. I wrote the answer so I would say I should be the one to decide which of the three to choose. In the interest of avoiding a flame war let's just say I have my opinion and you have yours. They are both equally valid. Sound fair? $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 29, 2018 at 13:57
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexHajnal I have opened an inquiry to get meta consensus on this issue $\endgroup$
    – Polygnome
    Commented Dec 29, 2018 at 14:00

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