Scroll down to read this post.


Please consider supporting my work here at Behind the Black. I keep the website clean from pop-ups and annoying demands. Instead, I depend entirely on my readers to support me. Though this means I am sacrificing some income, it also means that I remain entirely independent from outside pressure. By depending solely on donations and subscriptions from my readers, no one can threaten me with censorship. You don't like what I write, you can simply go elsewhere.


You can support me either by giving a one-time contribution or a regular subscription. There are five ways of doing so:


1. Zelle: This is the only internet method that charges no fees. All you have to do is use the Zelle link at your internet bank and give my name and email address (zimmerman at nasw dot org). What you donate is what I get.


2. Patreon: Go to my website there and pick one of five monthly subscription amounts, or by making a one-time donation.

3. A Paypal Donation:

4. A Paypal subscription:

5. Donate by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman and mailed to
Behind The Black
c/o Robert Zimmerman
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652


You can also support me by buying one of my books, as noted in the boxes interspersed throughout the webpage or shown in the menu above. And if you buy the books through the ebookit links, I get a larger cut and I get it sooner.

First picture of hole that occurred on Soyuz in December

Hole in First picture of hole that occurred on Soyuz in December

Russia has now released an image taken using the robot arm on ISS of the leak that occurred on its Soyuz capsule docked to ISS in December.

The picture to the right, cropped and reduced to post here, is that image. This is not the coolant leak hole on the Progress freighter on February 11th, this past weekend. As of now no image of that hole has ever been released.

No interpretation of this hole and the stain around it has as yet been released. However, Russia has now postponed the launch of the next Soyuz capsule from February 19th until early March in order “to give investigators time to rule out similar issues in the upcoming mission.” This Soyuz was to launch unmanned to replace the Soyuz that leaked in December and provide the astronauts that launched on that leaking Soyuz a safe lifeboat that they could come home on.

Meanwhile, all communications with ISS have now been shifted to the private channels, so the public cannot hear them.

All these actions strongly suggest that both the Russians and Americans are now seriously considering the possibility of sabotage or damage to the coolant systems on all Russian spacecraft, before they leave the factory and are launched.

ISS as of February 11, 2023

To clarify the situation, the image to the right shows all the spacecraft presently docked to ISS. Progress 82 is the spacecraft that experienced a leak in its coolant system on February 11th. Soyuz-MS22 experienced a leak in its coolant system in December. At the moment the only safe vehicle for returning the seven astronauts on ISS is Crew-5 Dragon, SpaceX’s Endurance spacecraft. Should a major catastrophe occur requiring an immediate evacuation of the station, the plan right now is for five astronauts to come home on Endurance, and two Russians to come home on the damaged Soyuz. (The thinking is that having only two men on board will prevent too much of a temperature rise during the return to Earth because of the lack of its coolant system.)

With the delay in the launch of the replacement Soyuz lifeboat, this emergency plan will be in place for at least three weeks longer.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit. If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.

The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.

"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News


  • J. Miller

    Minor correction: the linked image source says that it’s a picture of the hole in the Soyuz, not the Progress.

  • J. Miller: Not a minor correction. When I posted, I was certain they referenced the Progress freighter. Either I misread it or they at the time were wrong. Either way, I have now changed the post to describe things accurately.

    Thank you!

  • Ray Van Dune

    Minor correction: the currently active Dragon mission crew was originally comprised of four astronauts, and the current Soyuz crew was originally comprised of three. The total ISS crew size is thus seven.

    For emergency-return purposes, one American crewman has been reassigned from the Soyuz to the Dragon, so the Dragon will now carry five, the Soyuz two.

  • Ray Van Dune: I guess this is my day to make major corrections. Fixed. Thank you.

  • pzatchok

    Why no shadow on the blown up image?
    It could just be a simple adjustment but it would be nice if they said so before questions come up.

  • Tom Hill

    Very interesting point brought up by @pzatchok. There are two images in the linked tweet and one shows a shadow very close to the hole in the blown-up image here. Shadow looks like a solar array, so the easiest answer is that the images were taken a few minutes apart and the array had rotated out of the image by that time.

  • Micrometeor? Debris impact? Cheers –

  • pzatchok

    The array alone would have had to move, which is possible, because the shadow from the strut did not move.

    And if they took the blown up picture from a picture with out a shadow why not use that one for the reference picture?

  • pzatchok

    Sorry it did move.

  • wayne

    Andromeda Strain (1971)
    -an appropriate clip-

  • Edward

    The feature that looks like the hole is not circular, suggesting that it was not drilled into the metal.

    But then, this is just speculation, which NASA and Russia seem to want to prevent, according to the linked February 11 twitter.

    At the risk of speculating further, could it be that there are flaws in the metal that is being used? Yeah, I didn’t think so either.

    The ISS keeps one side always toward the Earth (yes, there is a “down” in space). The space station rotates on its own axis once an orbit or about 16 times per day. Thus, the shadows are constantly in motion.

    And before you ask the question, let me answer it. Yes, the ISS is rotating when they dock, which means that the docking spacecraft is also rotating, keeping its docking ring always facing the docking port. Those astronauts (or their automatic docking systems) make the process look so easy.

  • pzatchok

    A drill hole in sheet metal does not always come out perfect, especially if done by hand. They also sometimes tend to rip for various reasons.

    If someone drilled a hole all the way through the outer sheet metal into the coolant lines it would have been leaking from that moment. Unless they wait for the craft to get hot and then dump in coolant and turn on the system. Thus no coolant and no pressure in the system.

    Would that be done right after docking? If something like that is done then yes someone could just simply drill a hole in it knowing that the hole would not be found until after the system was turned on.

  • Star Bird

    And how soon can we set up a Penal Colony on Mars so we can send Clinton(Bill and Obama to?

  • Edward

    pzatchok, You wrote: “A drill hole in sheet metal does not always come out perfect, especially if done by hand. They also sometimes tend to rip for various reasons.

    You may not be drilling your holes right. I’ve successfully put screw holes and rivet holes in some pretty thin sheet metal without messing up any, and I am not a machinist.

    If this hole had been drilled (and I think it had not), it probably would have been drilled before the system was charged with coolant. The sabotage drilled hole hypothesis is that the hole was made during manufacture and filled in with a substance to hide it and to contain the coolant until well after testing but fail before the end of the mission. This is similar to the sabotage hypothesis for the hole drilled into the Soyuz, a few years ago.

    Although I do not have a better hypothesis than sabotage, I am too disturbed by this possibility to easily accept it. I want better evidence of sabotage before accepting it as a serious possibility. It would be far more comforting if it were a process error or even a design flaw (flawed process design?), because that could so easily be rectified on future builds and flights.

    If it is micrometeors or debris, that is scary, because there is little that can be done to correct it. However, it should be a rare random event that may not happen again, which would be more reassuring.

  • pawn

    Sorry, late to the thread but this photo has been in the back of my head, bothering me for a while.

    The annular pattern of the stain may hold a clue. If the puncture was made by a drill I would expect the staining to be radially monotonic but the stain has a pronounced ring.

    That ring could be the result of the insulation material being compacted or shocked along a channel when stuck by a micrometeoroid changing it’s permeability making fluid diffusion more difficult.

    I would expect a “wound” of this kind to bleed out along the penetration channel. I’m sure the impact probably generated a plasma that might have fused the material locally, effectively sealing off the channel..

Readers: the rules for commenting!


No registration is required. I welcome all opinions, even those that strongly criticize my commentary.


However, name-calling and obscenities will not be tolerated. First time offenders who are new to the site will be warned. Second time offenders or first time offenders who have been here awhile will be suspended for a week. After that, I will ban you. Period.


Note also that first time commenters as well as any comment with more than one link will be placed in moderation for my approval. Be patient, I will get to it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *