NASA's top authorities have fought back against a controversial allegation made by Russian media that a US astronaut bored a hole in the International Space Station (ISS) in an attempt to return home early after having a psychological breakdown.

According to Russia's TASS, a "high-ranking" unnamed employee of Russia's space agency Roscosmos blamed US astronaut Serena Auón-Chancellor of purposely drilling a hole in the ISS's Soyuz MS-09 ship.

The Soyuz vehicle's 2-millimeter drill hole was initially discovered in August 2018, IFL Science said. Mission controllers observed a drop in pressure in one of the modules. The minor leak was quickly fixed and mended, but the source of the hole was unknown. While Daily Mail said that the hole was created during construction on Earth, Science Times reported that the Russian media previously blamed US astronauts for it.

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(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
The International Space Station (ISS) is backdropped over Miami, Florida, in this 35mm frame photographed by STS-108 Commander Dominic Gorie aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour on Dec. 15, 2001.

Auñon-Chancellor had the first-ever blood clot, also known as deep vein thrombosis, per Healthline, in space in her neck vein during her trip on the International Space Station between June and December 2018, according to "Assessment of Jugular Venous Blood Flow Stasis and Thrombosis During Spaceflight."

According to an anonymous source at Roscosmos, this led her to have an "acute psychological crisis," prompting her to destroy the wall to "speed up her return to Earth."

Accusations Need Solid Evidence

Unidentified authorities said in the Daily Mail report that the video camera in this area of the ISS was mysteriously not operating at the time. The report added that "the Americans refused to pass the polygraph" lie tester.

They further claim that eight holes in the module were bored, although only one of them breached the hull. They claim that this indicates the holes were bored in weightless settings by someone unfamiliar with the Soyuz MS-09 vehicle, in other words, not a Russian cosmonaut.

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NASA authorities dismissed the rumors, claiming that they back Auón-Chancellor and that the charge lacks veracity.

Kathy Lueders, the agency's chief of human spaceflight, tweeted on Friday that NASA astronauts, including Serena Auón-Chancellor, are highly well-respected, serve their nation, and make essential contributions to the agency. According to Lueders, the space agency supports Serena and her professional behavior. Lueders stated that they do not feel these allegations are credible.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson responded to Lueder's post, saying that he entirely agrees with her. The NASA administrator stated that he completely supports Serena and that the astronauts would always have his backing.

Probably, this will not be the final chapter of this never-ending saga. The International Space Station (ISS) is exempted from the geopolitical conflicts between Russia and the United States. However, with Russia planning to leave the International Space Station by 2024 and the militarization of space increasing, the future of this friendly partnership is questionable.

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