Is it possible that a NASA astronaut aboard the International Space Station went crazy and punched eight holes in a Russian space module in a desperate bid to return to Earth?
According to a stunning claim in Russia's state media source, TASS, an anonymous high-ranking Russian space official is suggesting just that.
According to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, this and another deadly occurrence may have thrown the long-standing collaboration between NASA and Roscosmos even farther off its already shaky course.
NASA Astronaut 'Caused' a Strange Hole In The ISS Wall
According to reports, a strange hole was discovered in the hull of one of the station's modules during the 2018 incident on the orbiting space station.
The tiny hole would have depressurized the station in roughly two weeks if it had gone unnoticed.
Fortunately, cosmonauts could fix the hole with epoxy, and the Soyuz spacecraft was cleared to return to Earth with its three-person crew.
However, a "high-ranking official in the Russian space industry" was reported in the said TASS story on August 12, stating that there were eight man-made holes detected, not just one.
NASA officials denied the claim, saying that the US space agency does not believe it is plausible.
The Russian official claimed, without providing evidence, that Serena Aunon-Chancellor, a NASA astronaut onboard at the time, had experienced a medical problem involving blood flow that could have provoked an acute psychological crisis, leading her to seek a way to return to Earth before the mission was over.
NASA Stands By Its Astronaut, Says Accusations Are 'Baseless'
In the form of a space agency statement, NASA's reaction to the TASS article seemed to raise more concerns than it answered about a serious accusation made by a keyspace station partner.
"The hole that was detected in late August 2018 by the space station crew was quickly sealed, restoring air-tight pressure to the station," NASA said per Ars Technica.
They said the agency will not share medical information on crew members to safeguard their privacy.
NASA's human spaceflight administrator Kathy Lueders told reporters on Friday afternoon (August 13) during a media teleconference regarding recent delays with Boeing's Starliner spacecraft that the personal assaults against NASA astronaut and Expedition 56 flight engineer Serena Auón-Chancellor were unfounded.
"Serena is an extremely well-respected crew member who has served her country and made invaluable contributions to the agency," Lueders told reporters (via Space.com). "And I stand behind Serena - we stand behind Serena and her professional conduct, and I did not find this accusation credible."
Senator Bill Nelson, the administrator of NASA, agreed with Lueders' comments on Twitter on Friday afternoon.
"I wholeheartedly agree with Kathy's statement," Nelson tweeted. He added that he fully supports Serena and he will always stand behind his astronauts.
Auón-Chancellor was treated for a deep vein thrombosis, also known as a blood clot, in the jugular vein of her neck after she returned to Earth.
According to the TASS report, dealing with such a situation in space may prompt her to desire to leave the ISS early and, as a result, damage the spaceship that carried her to the orbiting station in order to return home soon.
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