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NASA Denies Accusation that Astronaut Suffered Mental Breakdown, Drilled Hole in Soyuz

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
August 15, 2021
Filed under , , , , , , , , ,
Astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor loading experiment modules into an MVP. (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA has denied a claim in a Russian publication that one of its astronauts, Serena Maria Auñón-Chancellor, might have suffered a mental breakdown while aboard the International Space Station (ISS) and drilled a hole in a Soyuz spacecraft in order to get back to Earth earlier than planned.

“NASA astronauts, including Serena Aunon-Chancellor, are extremely well-respected, serve their country and make invaluable contributions to the agency. We stand behind Serena and her professional conduct. We do not believe there is any credibility to these accusations,” tweeted Kathy Lueders, NASA Associate Administrator for Human Exploration.

A story published by the state news agency TASS claimed that Auñón-Chancellor could have drilled a hole in the orbital module of the Soyuz MS-09 transport in 2018. The article said she could have suffered a mental breakdown after being diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis, which is a blood clot that could become life threatening if not treated properly.

Below is a Google Translate excerpt from the original Russian language story:

“And this could provoke an acute psychological crisis,” which could lead to attempts in various ways to speed up her return to the planet, my anonymous interlocutor believes. Secondly, for some reason incomprehensible to Roscosmos, the video camera at the junction of the Russian and American segments did not work at that time. Thirdly, the Americans refused to pass the polygraph, unlike the Russian cosmonauts. Fourthly, the Russian Federation did not get the opportunity to examine the tools and drills that are on the ISS for the presence of the remains of metal shavings from the hull of the household compartment of our ship.

Finally, fifth: of the eight holes, only one was through – the rest were drilled as if with bounces of the drill, which rather speaks of drilling precisely in zero gravity conditions without the necessary support. One hole was generally made in the frame (the transverse rib of the ship’s hull), that is, drilled by someone who had not been trained in the construction of the Soyuz MS spacecraft.

ISS crew members were able to seal the mysterious hole, which did not pose a threat to the space station and its occupants. The hole was in the Soyuz spacecraft’s orbital module, which is separate from the crew module that cosmonauts and astronauts use to return to Earth.

Roscosmos has not released the results of its investigation into the strange incident.

The accusation was made in the middle of a long article rebutting American complaints about the quality of Russia’s space program. The most recent incident occurred when the newly arrived Nauka module spun the space 540 degrees throough unplanned firing of its thrusters.

12 responses to “NASA Denies Accusation that Astronaut Suffered Mental Breakdown, Drilled Hole in Soyuz”

  1. therealdmt says:


    Well, one thing we do know for sure is the Russian Nauka module, in development since the 90s and 13 years late from its original launch date, almost wrecked the entire station. Got a couple of other data points, too (decaying infrastructure like the collapse of the hanger for the then-still-uncancelled Buran, corruption in trying to build the Vostochny Cosmodrome, the Soyuz launch abort, the decades since a succesful planetary science mission, etc.). The drill hole in a Soyuz isn’t even needed to paint that picture.

    If the US astronaut did do it, however, it’d be good to know. Unless it’s just in a movie, that’s the kind of thing you don’t want happening on a Mars mission. Also, a potential higher risk of blood clotting is important to understand fully. Especially as space tourism is poised to open up to more and more people, that should be out in the open so that the full medical community can quantify and grapple with it and so that passengers can better appreciate the risk (if any)

  2. Paul_Scutts says:

    The best form of defense is attack. But, who did drill that damned hole in the Soyuz? A US astronaut? A “gay” cosmonaut? A Ukraine sympathiser? A disgruntled under-paid worker? A person who supported one of the gunned downed/poisoned potential Putin presidential opponents? Gee, the list just keeps getting longer and longer. It’s like “Chickens” and “Bobby Bushay” in good old Mother Russia. 🙁

  3. Saturn1300 says:

    I read that NASA checked old video from cameras on ISS and it shows where every person was at the time. It shows no one was near where the hole was drilled.The theory is a worker accidentally drilled it and put a patch on it that held up long enough on Earth to pressure check, but worked loose later.

  4. Mr Snarky Answer says:

    She should troll the Russians by picking up a gig as DeWALT spokeswomen.

  5. gunsandrockets says:

    Yikes. The backstory on Nauka module must be really terrible.

    SLS delenda est

  6. Andrew Tubbiolo says:

    Typical Russian’s … Always blame the women.

  7. Mad Celt says:

    Even if she did do you really believe our government, which deals in lies as ordinary business, would tell us?

    • duheagle says:

      Sure. It told us about the unbalanced female astronaut who went stalking her romantic rival some years ago. That strikes me as much more embarrassing than this fictional Roscosmos story even if the latter was to be fact instead of Russian lies. If the government always lied, it would be easy to figure out what’s what. Life isn’t that simple.

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