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International Space Station ‘loses control’ after new Russian module misfires
July 30, 2021
The International Space Station (ISS) was thrown out of control on Thursday when a newly arrived Russian research module launched its jet thrusters a few hours after it docked to the orbiting outpost, NASA officials confirm.
Seven crew members aboard the station were luckily never in 'any immediate danger', according to NASA and Russian state-owned news agency RIA.
The malfunction however prompted NASA to postpone the launch of its new CST-100 Starliner capsule on a highly anticipated uncrewed test flight to the space station until at least August 3.
Thursday's worrying incident came three hours after the multipurpose Nauka module latched onto the space station and controllers in Moscow performed some post-docking "reconfiguration" procedures, NASA said.
The new module's jets wrongly restarted which caused the entire station to turn out of its normal flight position over 250 miles above the Earth.
The mission's flight director declared a "spacecraft emergency," U.S. space agency officials said.
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A large change in the station's orientation was detected quickly by ground sensors and was followed 15 minutes later by a "loss of attitude control" lasting over 45 minutes.
Flight teams on the ground scrambled to activate thrusters on another module to align the ISS and team again, NASA officials said.
The incident was described as a "tug of war" between the two modules as the Space Centre struggled to get control.
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Joel Montalbano, manager of NASA's space station program, assured that the crew was in no "immediate danger at any time" and that they "really didn't feel any movement."
Should there have been a real threat to the crew, Montalbano said they could have escaped on a SpaceX crew capsule still parked at the outpost which was to be used as a "lifeboat" if needed, Reuters reported.
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It has not yet been confirmed what caused the malfunction of the thrusters on the Nauka module, provided by the Russian space agency Roscosmos.
There were seven crew members aboard the station at the time of the incident – two Russian cosmonauts, three NASA astronauts, a Japanese astronaut and a European space agency astronaut from France.