Russian Ship Malfunctions And Pushes International Space Station Off Course
NASA has revealed the International Space Station (ISS) was pushed off course for more than three quarters of an hour due to the malfunction of a Russian science lab.
The 13-metre-long lab, named Nauka, arrived at the ISS after launching from Kazakhstan last week with the goal of providing more space for scientific experiments.
Following its arrival, the lab accidentally fired its thrusters and caused the ISS to lose control of its orientation for 47 minutes, with ground controllers also twice losing communication with the station for a few minutes.
Automatic sensors on the ground picked up on the problem as Russian cosmonauts were checking for leaks between the lab and the service module, though it’s unclear why the thrusters malfunctioned.
Joel Montalbano, manager of NASA’s space station programme, explained the ISS was pitching out of alignment at the rate of about half a degree per second at the height of the incident, Sky News reports.
Ground teams have since regained control of the space station, with NASA assuring that the crew on board was ‘never and is not in any danger’. The motion of the station is now ‘stable’, though Montalbano said the crew ‘really didn’t feel any movement’.
Russian space officials echoed the reassurance, with Dmitry Rogozin, head of Roscosmos, the country’s state corporation responsible for space flights, tweeting to say that all was ‘in order at the ISS’.
He added: ‘The crew is resting, which is what I advise you to do as well.’
After arriving at the ISS, Nauka will need various manoeuvres, including up to 11 spacewalks, before it is ready to be used for experiments.
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