A major space accident was averted on Thursday as the International Space Station (ISS) was thrown briefly out of control on when jet thrusters of a newly arrived Russian research module inadvertently fired a few hours after it was docked to the orbiting outpost, NASA officials said.
At the time of the incident there were seven crew members aboard the ISS, out of those two were Russian cosmonauts, three NASA astronauts, a Japanese astronaut, and a European space agency astronaut from France and none of them were never in any immediate danger, according to NASA and Russian state-owned news agency RIA.
According to NASA officials, the space mishap began about three hours after the multipurpose Nauka module had latched onto the International Space Station, as mission controllers in Moscow were performing some post-docking “reconfiguration” procedures.
Officials said that the module’s jets inexplicably restarted, causing the entire station to pitch out of its normal flight position some 250 miles above the Earth, leading the Russian mission’s flight director to declare a “spacecraft emergency.
The manager of NASA’s space station program Joel Montalbano said that the unexpected drift in the station’s orientation was first detected by automated ground sensors, followed 15 minutes later by a “loss of attitude control” that lasted a little over 45 minutes.
This malfunction has prompted NASA to postpone the launch of Boeing’s new CST-100 Starliner capsule on a highly anticipated uncrewed test flight to the space station until 3rd of August. The Starliner had been set to blast off atop an Atlas V rocket today from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Launched in November 1998, the ISS is a modular space station in the lower earth orbit which is a multinational collaborative project involving five participating space agencies: NASA (United States), Roscosmos (Russia), JAXA (Japan), ESA (Europe), and CSA (Canada) with no single country having the sole ownership rights of the habitable satellite. It is also the most expensive man-made thing in the world with cost more than a hundred billion US dollars.