Soyuz MS-09
COSPAR ID2018-051A Edit this at Wikidata
SATCAT no.43493Edit this on Wikidata
Mission duration196d 17h 50m
Spacecraft properties
Spacecraft typeSoyuz-MS 11F747
ManufacturerRKK Energia
Crew size3
MembersSergey V. Prokopyev
Alexander Gerst
Serena M. Auñón-Chancellor
Start of mission
Launch date6 June 2018 11:12:41 UTC[1]
Launch siteBaikonur Pad 1/5
End of mission
Landing date20 December 2018 05:02 UTC[2]
Landing siteKazakh Steppe[2]
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric
RegimeLow Earth
Docking with ISS
Docking portRassvet nadir
Docking date8 June 2018 13:01 UTC
Undocking date20 December 2018 01:42 UTC[2]
Time docked194d 12h 41m

(l-r) Prokopyev, Gerst and Auñón-Chancellor
Soyuz programme
(Crewed missions)

Soyuz MS-09 was a Soyuz spaceflight which launched on 6 June 2018.[1] It transported three members of the Expedition 56/57 crew to the International Space Station (ISS). MS-09 is the 138th flight of a Soyuz spacecraft. The crew consisted of a Russian commander, and an American and a German flight engineer. The mission ended at 05:02 UTC on 20 December 2018.


Oleg Kononenko on EVA to examine the external hull, standing on a Strela crane
Position Crew member
Commander Russia Sergey Prokopyev, RSA
Expedition 56
First spaceflight
Flight Engineer 1 Germany Alexander Gerst, ESA
Expedition 56
Second spaceflight
Flight Engineer 2 United States Serena M. Auñón-Chancellor, NASA
Expedition 56
Only spaceflight

Backup crew

Position[3] Crew member
Commander Russia Oleg Kononenko, RSA
Flight Engineer 1 Canada David Saint-Jacques, CSA
Flight Engineer 2 United States Anne C. McClain, NASA

Air leak

Hole in Soyuz MS-09 module docked to International Space Station
The hole patched with epoxy

During the night of 29 August 2018,[4] a small air leak in the ISS was noticed by ground control. A 2 mm hole in the orbital module was discovered,[5] later stated to have been "hidden with a low-quality patch job."[6] Russian crew members used Kapton tape to temporarily seal the leak while a permanent fix was devised. The leak was successfully sealed with the use of a repair kit based on an epoxy sealant, and no further changes in air pressure were noted as of 31 August.[5][7] On 4 September 2018, it was announced that the hole was created by a drill, but it was unclear if it was accidental or deliberate.[8] Russian officials indicated the hole was some kind of sabotage, perhaps during the module's manufacturing process.[6] Russian officials even speculated that one of the NASA crew members had drilled the hole.[9]

On 11 December 2018, Kononenko and Prokopyev conducted an EVA, cutting into the thermal blankets and pulling away insulation, in order to examine the external hull, take images of the area and retrieve samples of residue to be used in the investigation. As the hole is in the orbital module that is jettisoned before re-entry, the return flight was not endangered.[10] The return of the MS-09 crew was briefly delayed by the launch failure of Soyuz MS-10 (until the arrival of the next crew on MS-11). MS-09 landed on 20 December at about 05:03 UTC.[2]

Further reports and investigation were enacted thereafter.[11] Prokopyev was quoted as saying that the drill hole was made from the inside, however it is still unclear when it was made.[12] In September 2019, the head of Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, claimed that Roscosmos knows exactly what happened but that the agency would keep this information secret.[13] On April 20, 2021, major Russian language tabloid Moskovskij Komsomolets published an article citing a Facebook post by Vadim Lukashevich which claimed that the hole was drilled by Serena Auñón-Chancellor, after a blood clot developed in her jugular vein,[14] which was disputed by NASA and called "preposterous" by Ars Technica.[15] The full treatment was published in 2020, documented in the correspondence paper "Venous Thrombosis during Spaceflight" by NEJM.[16] The results of a Roscosmos investigation were later handed over to “law enforcement authorities” in late 2021, with a new theory being promoted by state media: that the hole is “due to suffering [psychologically] after a failed romantic relationship with one of the crew members.”[17]


  1. ^ a b Evans, Ben (6 June 2018). "Soyuz MS-09 Launches U.S., Russian, German Spacefarers to Space Station". AmericaSpace. Retrieved 4 December 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d Gebhardt, Chris (19 December 2018). "Soyuz MS-09 lands after unprecedented on-orbit repairs, inspections". Retrieved 20 December 2018.
  3. ^ (2013). "Орбитальные полёты".
  4. ^ Gebhardt, Chris (30 August 2018). "Soyuz/Station atmosphere leak no threat to Crew as repairs continue".
  5. ^ a b Clark, Stephen (30 August 2018). "Cosmonauts plug small air leak on the International Space Station". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 2 September 2018.
  6. ^ a b Wehner, Mike (26 December 2018). "What does it mean if the hole in the ISS was drilled from the inside?". Boy Genius Report. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  7. ^ Roscosmos (2018). "Роскосмос. Информационное сообщение".
  8. ^ Harwood, William (4 September 2018). "Russians investigate cause of Soyuz leak, focus on human error". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  9. ^ "U.S., Russia Respond to Space Station Leak Rumors". The New York Times. 13 September 2018.
  10. ^ Bergin, Chris. "Russian EVA examines hole repair area on Soyuz MS-09 –". Retrieved 17 December 2018.
  11. ^ "Russian spacewalkers cut into Soyuz spaceship to inspect leak repair – Spaceflight Now".
  12. ^ Mandelbaum, Ryan F. (25 December 2018). "Report: ISS Hole Drilled From the Inside, Cosmonaut Says". Gizmodo. Retrieved 25 December 2018.
  13. ^ "NASA mystery: Russians 'know exactly what happened' to hole on international space station". 23 September 2019.
  14. ^ "Whose holes are there in space? Moskovskij Komsomolets". Retrieved 30 April 2021.
  15. ^ Berger, Eric (12 August 2021). "Russia's space program just threw a NASA astronaut under the bus". Ars Technica. Retrieved 17 August 2021.
  16. ^ David, Leonard (4 January 2020). "An Astronaut Got a Blood Clot in Space. Here's How Doctors on Earth Fixed It".
  17. ^ Dvorsky, George (1 December 2021). "Saga of Tiny Drill Hole in the ISS Continues as Russia Sends Investigation to Police". G/O Media.