The “Nauka” module shortly before it docked with the ISS. A few hours later, the module’s engines were unintentionally detonated, throwing the entire ISS out of its trajectory. For the time being, it was the last chapter in a long series of Russian space breakdowns.
The specialists were working from the flight control center on the engines of the new module in order to ensure the safety of the ISS and the crew, the space agency Roskosmos announced on Friday in Moscow.
After the module initially docked with the ISS as planned on Thursday, its engines ignited a few hours later “unintentionally and unexpectedly,” as NASA tweeted. The space station was thrown out of its trajectory. The crew of the ISS then ignited the engines of the Russian part of the station in order to counteract. The correction took almost an hour.
The problem has now been resolved and all systems are working normally. According to NASA, there was no danger to the space travelers. The space agency told journalists that they had prepared everything for an evacuation of the ISS as a precaution.
As a consequence of the incident, NASA postponed the unmanned test flight of a Boeing Starliner spaceship planned for Friday to the ISS, as an investigation into the incident was initiated. The authority announced that the earliest start date is now coming Tuesday.
“There is contact !!!”, Dmitri Rogozin, the head of the Russian space agency Roskosmos, cheered on Twitter after “Nauka” initially docked as planned on Thursday. However, problems had already arisen during the eight-day trip to the ISS. «We will not lie. In the first three days we had to worry, ”Rogozin told the RIA Novosti news agency.
It will now take several months and several space walks to fully integrate the module into the space station. “Nauka” was launched last week from the Baikonur spaceport in Kazakhstan with a Russian Proton rocket. The new module is mainly used for research and storage of laboratory equipment.
But it will also make people’s lives on board the ISS a little more comfortable. For the Russian part of the space station, “Nauka” creates space for water, cargo and oxygen equipment for regeneration. The ERA robot arm from the European Space Agency (ESA) is also on board and is the first robot arm to be able to reach the Russian part of the ISS.
The 20-tonne «Nauka» module was originally supposed to be brought to the space station in 2007, but the launch has been postponed again and again. «Nauka» replaces the «Pirs» module that was in use for 20 years. “Pirs” was decoupled from the ISS at the beginning of the week and then burned up in the earth’s atmosphere, its remains fell into the Pacific Ocean.