Soyuz capsule was drilled after it was fully assembled

The investigation into the drillhole leak in the Soyuz capsule docked to ISS has revealed that it had to have been done after the capsule was fully assembled.

“During the analysis of those images, traces of drilling were found on the anti-meteorite shield,” the source said, adding that “the top of the drill came through the pressure hull and hit the non-gastight outer shell.”

According to another industry source, the non-gastight anti-meteorite protection is installed right before the spacecraft is taken to the final assembly workshop. “When Soyuz MS-09 has just arrived to the final assembly workshop, it was photographed in details. No hole and no signs of drilling… were found. The spacecraft was drilled later, when it was fully assembled,” the source said. He added that the anti-meteorite shield was also photographed before being installed, and no traces on it were found as well.

The source suggested that the spacecraft could be damaged either during the very last stage of works or during its 90-day stay in the checkout stand, adding that it was highly unlikely that the damage occurred during the transportation to the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan or at the launch facility.

This narrowing of the time frame for the drilling will increase the chances that the Russians will be able to identify who did.

After resuming drilling in Seattle — and only going four feet — Bertha has been stopped again.

After resuming drilling in Seattle — and only going four feet — Bertha has been stopped again.

High temperatures near the machine’s cutting face prompted contractors to stop mining after the drill advanced a total of 4 feet in test runs Tuesday and Wednesday. And that ended Bertha’s attempt to resume mining after an eight-week layoff.

The earlier stoppage remains unexplained. They found some concrete chunks and steel pipe sections in the way, but nothing that could have explained why the drill was blocked. Now the high temperatures pose a more significant problem, as they suggest there is something technical wrong with the giant drill.

A new study outlines the problems British researchers had in their 2012 attempt to drill down into a buried Antarctic lake.

A new study outlines the problems British researchers had in their 2012 attempt to drill down into a buried Antarctic lake.

The project had been under development for ten years, and yet:

According to the paper, problems started when the boiler that was intended to melt large quantities of snow to provide hot water for the drill failed to work properly because of short-circuiting in its control panel. More severe problems followed. The two parallel drills — one to drill the main borehole to reach the lake, and one to create a reservoir cavity to recirculate drilling water — ran too slowly. Other failures, including of components designed to ensure vertical drilling, exacerbated the problems.

“The drilling was essentially undertaken blindly,” says Siegert. Probably because one or both holes were not drilled vertically, the cavity failed to link with the main borehole. Water also leaked into the cavity drill and froze the hose in the drill hole. Attempts to remove the hose failed, so it had to be cut. At that point, and with not enough fuel left to reach the lake, Siegert gave up.

Seems to me that these problems — some very basic engineering design errors — are a good example of some basic incompetence. If I was providing financial backing to this project I would probably demand that a lot of people be fired before I would give them anymore money.

The report also has this interesting detail which confirms the doubts about the Russian drilling effort:

In 2012, Russian scientists broke into Lake Vostok, by far the largest of Antarctica’s hidden lakes, using a kerosene-fuelled drill. But their samples are spoiled with drill fluid and the bacteria they contain are probably contaminant species.

Unconfirmed reports in the Russian press today claim that the drilling team in Antarctica has successfully reached Lake Vostok more than two miles under the icecap.

Unconfirmed reports in the Russian press today claimed that the drilling team in Antarctica has successfully reached Lake Vostok, more than two miles under the icecap.

No results yet. And since the story above spends more time talking about old silly stories about a hidden NAZI hideout in Antarctica than it does the Russian science effort there it should be taken with a grain of salt.

Drilling in Antarctica

Drilling down to Lake Vostok has resumed in Antarctica.

This week, a Russian team drilling into Lake Vostok in the center of the Antarctic continent is likely to break through the ice to water. It will be the first time that a subglacial lake has been breached. These modern-day explorers hope to discover whether Vostok, which at 5000 km 3 is the third largest lake on the planet, is teeming with hidden, cold-loving life that could have evolved separately from the rest of the world for hundreds of thousands of years….

After drilling 3720 meters last February, time ran out for the team and the project was stymied just 29.5 meters from its destination as winter set in. Over the summer, they modified their drill bits and now the team is back at work with plenty of time to spare. They had left the large hole filled with antifreeze, so it was ready and waiting for them. It will remain open for years to come, Priscu says, potentially allowing other teams to sample the waters in the future.

Judge holds Interior Department in contempt over offshore oil drilling moratorium

A Louisiana judge has held the Interior Department in contempt over its offshore oil drilling moratorium. Key quote:

After [the judge] overturned the government’s moratorium in June, the agency issued a second nearly identical suspension. “Such dismissive conduct, viewed in tandem with the re-imposition of a second blanket and substantively identical moratorium and in light of the national importance of this case, provide this court with clear and convincing evidence of the government’s contempt of this court’s preliminary injunction order.”

The Obama administration might not realize it — as well as many politicians from both parties in DC — we are a nation of laws, not men. It thumb your nose at the law it will eventually come back to bite you. Especially if the citizenry becomes outraged at your arrogance.