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05 October 2018, 06:27 | Justin Tyler
Vyacheslav Prokoviev TASS
This week, Dmitry Rogozin, chief of the Russian Space Agency, had said that investigators believed that a small hole was made intentionally and that the said hole was not a manufacturing defect.
She also said the space agency was confident that the origin of the hole would ultimately be explained.
He also wrote "spasibo" (thank you) and signed his name on the craft in chalk.
Three members of the Expedition 56 crew returned safely to Earth Thursday from the International Space Station, where they spent months providing hands-on support for scientific research in low-Earth orbit, working to keep the orbiting laboratory fully operational, and performing three spacewalks. The next expedition - Russia's Alexei Ovchinin and the United States' Nick Hague will leave Baikonur on board the Soyuz MS-10 for the ISS on October 11.
"NASA and Roscosmos are both investigating the incident to determine the cause", NASA said on Wednesday.
Rogozin previously raised the possibility of a deliberate act in comments reported by the Russian news agency RIA Novosti, which quoted him earlier this month as saying it appeared that a drill had been used by an "unsteady hand", leaving metal around the hole scraped. They had a telephone call on September 12 during which they discussed the International Space Station leak.
"I think it's absolutely a shame and somewhat embarrassing that anybody is wasting any time talking about something that the crew was involved in", he added.
Feustel is returning to Earth Thursday at 7:45 a.m. EDT with fellow crew members Ricky Arnold and Oleg Artemyev ending a 197-day stay in space. Gerst assumed command of the station as Feustel prepared to depart.
NASA expressed confidence in the Soyuz manufacturing process. NASA says it hopes to sort the problem out then.
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