Russian cosmonauts take samples on 6th hour of spacewalk to crack mystery

Watch Russian cosmonauts spacewalk to check out hole in Soyuz capsule

"It should be somewhere here", Mr Kononenko says at the height of the six-hour operation.

Back in August, the station crew patched the hole in the Soyuz capsule, plugging it with epoxy and gauze.

"That is exactly the hole we've been looking for, guys", radioed Russian Mission Control outside Moscow.

The two Russians performed the space walk on December 11, as part of an effort by Roskosmos to pinpoint the cause of the hole, which was found in August in the docked Soyuz capsule and strained relations between the Russian and USA space agencies.

A pair of Russian cosmonauts will investigate a hole in the Soyuz MS-09 capsule attached to the International Space Station. Russian space chief Dmitry Rogozin observed that the hole could have been drilled during manufacturing - or in orbit.

In the 7 hour 45 minute expedition, the cosmonauts took extensive photos of the drilling site and collected material from around the hole to be sent back to the Earth for testing.

However, Russian officials have said they believe it was caused by a drill and may have been deliberate.

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The discovery of the hole was followed in October by the failure of a manned Soyuz launch, although the Russian and USA astronauts returned safely to Earth.

The Russian space agency is reportedly still in the midst of its investigation into the hole and its origins.

Unlike the ISS, the spacecraft is not created to be repaired in space and has no railings or anything to cling on to from the outside.

Russians Sergei Prokopyev and Oleg Kononenko spotted the tiny hole in the external hull of the Soyuz capsule, more than five hours into their grueling spacewalk.

Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko (in the spacesuit with red stripes) and Sergey Prokopyev (with blue stripes), both Expedition 57 flight engineers, cut into the exterior insulation of the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft during a December 11.

The two cosmonauts then used the same tools to cut into and peel away a thin metal orbital debris shield to expose the hole in the Soyuz MS-09's orbital compartment. Nasa said, according to the outdoor use, prior to the clarification by the Russian specialists for each statement too early.

The ISS is one of the few areas of Russia-US cooperation that remains unaffected by the slump in relations and Washington's sanctions.

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