International Space Station Leak Plugged - With Finger
A leak that threatened the survival of crew in the International Space Station was thankfully discovered and plugged.
According to this report, an ESA astronaut literally plugged the leak with his finger.
(ISS astronaut plugs leak with finger)
After a morning of investigations, the crew reported that the leak was isolated to a hole about two millimeters in diameter in the orbital compartment, or upper section, of the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft attached to the Rassvet module of the Russian segment of the station.
Flight controllers at their respective Mission Control centers in Houston and Moscow worked together with the crew to effect a repair option in which Soyuz commander Sergey Prokopyev of Roscosmos used epoxy on a gauze wipe to plug the hole identified as the leak source. As the teams were discussing options, flight controllers in Moscow performed a partial increase of the stationís atmosphere using the ISS Progress 70 cargo shipís oxygen supply. Flight controllers in Houston are continuing to monitor stationís cabin pressure in the wake of the repair.
Science fiction writers had a few ideas, and even anticipated that astronauts might plug leaks with their own bodies. For example, Robert Heinlein's puckish 1948 short story Gentlemen, Be Seated:
There were perhaps a dozen bladder-like objects in the tunnel, the size and shape of toy balloons. They seemed to displace exactly their own weight of air; they floated without displaying much tendency to rise or settle. Konski batted one out of his way and answered me before I could ask.
"This piece of tunnel was pressurized today," he told me.
"These tag-alongs search out stray leaks. They're sticky inside. They get sucked up against a leak, break, and the goo gets sucked in, freezes and seals the leak."
(Read more about Heinlein's tag-alongs)
Also, for an even earlier reference, take a look at the entry for the smoke jets from Leo Zagat's 1932 short story The Great Dome of Mercury