The new “Nauka” Space Station module arrived at the ISS early this morning. Since then, it has caused the station to lose attitude control by firing its thrusters without being commanded. The ISS has since regained attitude control.
Space Station looses atitude control
This incident started at 11:45 AM CDT (16:45 UTC) with errant firings of the Nauka module thrusters while Russian Cosmonauts were integrating the newly docked module with the station’s logic computers. These module’s thruster firings were unexpected and caused the space station to lose attitude control. Attitude control is what keeps the station in a specific orientation relative to itself. The station has sets of thruster throughout that are used to make adjustments.
As soon as the issue arose, Russian controllers began work to stop the thruster firings. The thrusters firing on the Nauka module caused the station to “lean” around 45 degrees off-axis. The Zvezda module detected the station beginning to lean off-axis and began trying to correct it. Shortly after, Russian controllers enabled the thrusters on the Progress resupply vessel to regain control rather than the Zvezda module. As of writing this, reports appear to show that the thruster firings occurred over a span of roughly 45 minutes before control was regained and the station returned to a normal attitude.
NASA and Russian teams are now in recovery mode. Russian teams are also working to identify what caused the uncommanded thruster firings. Russian controllers should have sent commands to the Nauka module to disable its propulsion systems to prevent any additional firings. NASA Officials will be having a teleconference later today to discuss the events of this incident. NASA also repeatedly stated that the Astronauts were not in danger, though some say it’s too early to make that call.
Effect on OFT-2
ULA and Boeing are currently preparing to launch their OFT-2 mission to the ISS, scheduled NET July 30th, but it is unclear what effect this incident will have on the launch. Media personnel were in the process of placing remote cameras at the launch pad while these events were transpiring.
Update: ULA and NASA have announced an official delay to the OFT-2 Launch due to the space station losing control.
Update: The new date and time for the OFT-2 launch is August 3rd at 1:20 PM EDT (17:20 UTC)
We will update this story as more details become available.
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