Russian spacefighters cut specimens of material around a mysterious hole in a spacecraft anchored on the International Space Station (ISS), which was the center of vicious rumors and conspiracy theories.
The space agency Roskosmos said the aim was to find out whether the "small but dangerous" hole was being made on Earth or in space.
The two-millimeter spacecraft aboard the Russian space ship Soyuz anchored in the ISS was discovered on August 30 after an air leak was detected two months after the last voyage of the voyage.
Hole rumors could be the work of a terrorist began after the head of Rosemusus Dmitry Rogozin spoiled production error was unable to exclude the possibility of "deliberate interference in space."
One theory reported in Russian media that American astronauts deliberately drilled the hole to get a sick colleague sent home.
How did a small circular hole in a Russian Soyuz capsule be drilled? Was it a manufacturing mistake? Are you, as the Russian media are reporting, a NASA astronaut trying to force the evacuation of the International Space Station? Https://t.co/hLH8xaAQfh
– NYT Science (@NYTScience) December 11, 2018
By Tuesday, astronauts were only able to observe the hole from the spacecraft.
During seven hours, 45 minutes walking space, veteran cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Sergey Prokopyev struggled, but eventually managed, cut the insulation covering the hole and take out a dissecting sample.
What made it particularly difficult is that the Soyuz probe, unlike the ISS, was not designed to repair the spaceships and there are no external railings to hold astronauts.
"There's nothing, that's the problem," Kononenko said ahead of the departure.
Mr. Rogozin said in October that the investigation deprived him of manufacturing error. He said earlier that Russia does not exclude "intentional interference in space."
Russian media reported that the investigation is examining the possibility that American astronauts deliberately drilled the hole to get a sick colleague sent home.
Russian officials later denied the reports.
The discovery of the hole was achieved in October by the failure of a manned Soyuz mission, although the Russian and American astronauts returned safely to Earth.
The samples will be sent to Earth "to reach the truth" of space sources, the space agency said.
Cosmonauts also photographed and photographed video before inserting new insulation on the surface.
Walking in space was the fourth for Kononenko and the second at Prokobiev.
Mr. Rogozin called the mission "unprecedented in its complexity" on Twitter and Roscosmos said it would "go into the history of space exploration."
The Soyuz spacecraft is used to transport astronauts to and from Earth. The hole is in a section that will not be used for a return trip to Earth on December 20.
The ISS is one of the few areas of cooperation between Russia and the United States that has remained untouched by the influence of Washington's relations and sanctions.