Russia in fiery claim NASA astronaut made hole in spaceship to get home early

Russian space chiefs have accused a NASA astronaut of sabotaging the International Space Station so she could go home early in a bizarre outburst in state media.

The Russians accused NASA whizz Serena Auñón-Chancellor, 45, of drilling a hole in its capsule on the International Space Station (ISS) because she was having "an acute psychological crisis".

Government mouthpiece Tass cited a "high-ranking official in the Russian space industry" for the inflammatory comments, which NASA slapped down as not credible.

It's the latest spat in an ongoing blame game over a major tech failure in a Russian module three years ago, which almost knocked the International Space Station off course.

What caused the tiny hole in the ship remains unknown.

The baseless claim alleges Auñón-Chancellor suffered a blood clot during the orbit, "which could have provoked an acute psychological crisis" leading her to sabotage the venture so she could rush back to earth.

The Tass article added this theory "quite clearly reflects the Russian leadership's vision of the current situation".

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It's not known whether the astronaut did suffer a blood clot, but orbit records show one astronaut onboard the ISS did treat their own blood clot during that time.

NASA head of human spaceflight Kathy Lueders said Serena and her colleagues are "extremely well-respected, serve their country, and make invaluable contributions to the agency.

"We stand behind Serena and her professional conduct.

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"We do not believe there is any credibility to these accusations."

NASA chief Bill Nelson stated in a tweet: "I fully support Serena and I will always stand behind our astronauts."

The 2mm (0.08-inch) hole caused a dangerous air leak, which led air pressure on the ISS to plunge.

Cosmonauts were forced to go on an 8h spacewalk to fix the hole, using knives and gauze to cut into the space station.

Theories for how the hole was made include human error by an engineer on Earth, manufacturing issues and sabotage.

That last suggestion has sparked distrust among the Russian and American space agencies, who are now bickering more than they have for decades.

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