On Tuesday, the United States extended its commitment to manning and maintaining the International Space Station through 2030, but Russian officials say they may not be ready to cooperate after discovering what they claim is deliberate, human sabotage aboard the ISS.
In late August, astronauts aboard the ISS were alerted to dropping oxygen levels aboard the station. They discovered — and quickly and effectively patched — a small hole in the station's hull, allowing precious oxygen to escape out into space.
Originally, the Express.co.uk reports, astronauts believed the hole to be the result of a collision or an incident that happened outside the ISS, but Russian officials now say they have reason to believe the hole was made on the inside of the ISS. They even claim to have evidence of "drilling."
"Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, now believes the hole was made on purpose. It also found drill traces near the hole," according to the Express. "Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Roscosmos, said following the findings of an investigation: 'It concluded that a manufacturing defect had been ruled out which is important to establish the truth.'"
The Russians, of course, blamed American astronauts and concluded that the evidence of "drilling" indicated "sabotage."
NASA, though, isn't so sure. Although the space agency says it accepts Roscosmos' findings that the hole may have been made from the inside — and even possibly by drilling — they don't believe American astronauts worked to undermine international cooperation in space by killing everyone on board the ISS.
"Russian media recently reported that General Director Rogozin said the hole was not a manufacturing defect. Ruling out a manufacturing defect indicates that this is an isolated issue which does not categorically affect future production," NASA said in a statement. "This conclusion does not necessarily mean the hole was created intentionally or with mal-intent. NASA and Roscosmos are both investigating the incident to determine the cause. The International Space Station Program is tentatively planning a spacewalk in November to gather more information."
The US and Roscosmos are both committed to a manned spaceflight and mission to the ISS in October. NASA says it hopes to sort the problem out then.