American Astronaut Accused Of Sabotage by Russia

The Russian space agency Roscosmos has completed an investigation into possible sabotage onboard a Russian spacecraft.

Russia continues to blame U.S. astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor for intentionally damaging a Russian spacecraft in 2018 that could have led to a catastrophic failure in space. Roscosmos -the Russian equivalent of NASA- has accused the American since at least 2018, but NASA officials continue to hold that the claims are baseless.

The latest claims by the Russian space agency state that the Auñón-Chancellor suffered a mental breakdown while in space and intentionally drilled a small hole in the Soyuz spacecraft in an effort to cut short her six-month mission to the International Space Station. Russian officials have also stated that the Auñón-Chancellor experienced a blood clot in her neck while in space, leading to a surgical repair once she returned to Earth.

NASA does not publicize the medical records of astronauts and has maintained that Aunon-Chancellor is well-respected by colleagues. She continues to be employed by NASA.

Russia claims that the Auñón-Chancellor experienced stress and anxiety while on the mission after dealing with a failed romantic relationship prior to the mission. Early reporting in 2021 includes an unsubstantiated claim by a Russian newspaper that the astronaut had a fight with her boyfriend while onboard the space station. Auñón-Chancellor is married and no evidence of an outside relationship has ever been presented.

According to the now-completed Russian report, the hole that was drilled in the spacecraft could not have been made on the ground and was not the result of an impact with a meteorite, two of the leading theories. In 2019, Russian news reports stated that the hole was most likely made on the ground by a worker who used a patch to seal up the hole rather than report the error.

Russia now claims that the hole was made in microgravity as evidenced by marring around the hole and the presence of several other holes that did not puncture the airlock. Russia says this is evidence that the individual responsible for the damage was not familiar with the construction of the spacecraft.

Roscosmos and the Russian administration had requested that the American undergo a polygraph test which was refused by NASA. The Russian agency claims that the cameras that would have shown the location of the American prior to the leak occurring were manually shut off and that the agency was not allowed to investigate tools to attempt to identify metal shavings or markings that might confirm sabotage.

Russia is now moving toward filing criminal charges against the Auñón-Chancellor for sabotage.

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