Why Russian module Nauka knocked space station out of control? Official explains

  • The International Space Station was knocked off its course after a Russian research module was docked, causing “loss of attitudinal control” that lasted for a little more than 45 minutes.
On Thursday, Nasa assured that ground teams had regained attitude control and the motion of the space station was stable.(Twitter / @novitskiy_iss)
On Thursday, Nasa assured that ground teams had regained attitude control and the motion of the space station was stable.(Twitter / @novitskiy_iss)
Published on Jul 30, 2021 09:49 PM IST
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By | Edited by Kunal Gaurav, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

Russia on Friday blamed a “short-term software failure” for an incident that threw the International Space Station (ISS) out of control after a research module was docked. The ISS was knocked off its course due to an unplanned firing of jet thrusters of the Russian research module Nauka, causing “loss of attitudinal control” that lasted for a little more than 45 minutes, according to the manager of Nasa's space station program.

Vladimir Solovyov, designer general at Energia, a Russian space agency company, said in a statement that a direct command was “mistakenly implemented” to activate the thrusters of the multipurpose laboratory module, turning on the engines for withdrawal. He said that the software failure led to “some modification of the orientation of the complex as a whole.”

"The crew is now busy balancing the pressure in the Nauka module. In the afternoon, the crew will open the hatches, enter the module, turn on the necessary means of purifying the atmosphere and begin normal regular work," Solovyov added.

On Thursday, Nasa assured that ground teams had regained attitude control and the motion of the space station was stable. The ground teams restored the attitudinal control and orientation of the space station by activating thrusters on another module attached to it. Quoting Nasa specialists at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, Russian state-owned news agency RIA described the struggle to regain control of the space station as a “tug of war” between two modules.

The US space agency stressed that the seven crew aboard the ISS were never in any immediate danger. The malfunction, however, prompted Nasa to postpone the launch of the Boeing Starliner spacecraft until August 3.

Currently, three Nasa astronauts, two Russian cosmonauts, a Japanese astronaut and a European space agency astronaut from France are onboard the space station.

"Dear friends, I’m reading your numerous comments. Don’t worry! Our work at the International Space Station to integrate the newly arrived Nauka module continues! Tonight we are going to open the hatches. Will keep you posted!" tweeted Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitsky, who is onboard the ISS.

(With agency inputs)

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