NASA Issues Statement on Small ISS Leak Causing Problems With Russia

October 4, 2018, 3:15 PM UTC

NASA has a bit of a problem on its hands with the Russians after the International Space Station (ISS) sprung a leak. And now, it’s saying something about it.

In a statement on Wednesday, NASA said that a “small hole was discovered at the International Space Station” in August that has since been patched. NASA, along with its Russian counterparts at Roscosmos, are both investigating the cause of the hole, the space agency said, and they’re planning to hold their first in-person meeting later this month.

“Russian media recently reported that General Director Rogozin said the hole was not a manufacturing defect,” NASA said. “Ruling out a manufacturing defect indicates that this is an isolated issue which does not categorically affect future production.”

NASA went on to say that the hole wasn’t “necessarily…created intentionally or with mal-intent.” The ISS Program, which manages all of the U.S. and Russian activities on the ISS is hoping to have a space walk in November to continue the investigation.

The statement, which at first blush appears to say little, comes after a leak was found in the orbital module of a Russian Soyuz spacecraft. Soon after it was discovered, Russia sought answers and media reports there seemed to questioned whether NASA astronauts intentionally drilled the hole to hurt their Russian counterparts.

When Rogozin said that it wasn’t a “manufacturing defect,” claims of possible sabotage only grew louder in Russia, putting apparent strain on the countries’ relationship.

Still, the statement was nothing if not hard to decipher. And ArsTechnica, which earlier reported on it, spoke to a NASA spokesperson who attempted to clarify it a bit.

That spokesperson said that the statement was meant to confirm NASA’s “confidence in the Soyuz spacecraft,” according to ArsTechnica. NASA also wants to make it clear that its astronauts had nothing to do with the hole and it wasn’t sabotage.

Looking ahead, NASA Is moving forward with a launch from a Russian Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft on Oct. 11. The agency and Roscosmos plan to meet after the launch.