Nauka – a long-delayed laboratory module that Russian space agency Roscosmos launched to the International Space Station last week – inadvertently fired its thrusters after docking with the International Space Station on Thursday morning.
NASA officials said it was a “space emergency” because the space station suffered a loss of attitude control (the angle at which the ISS is supposed to stay oriented) for nearly a decade. ‘one hour, and the ground controllers lost communication with the seven astronauts currently aboard the ISS. for 11 minutes during the test. A joint investigation between NASA and the Russian space agency Roscosmos is currently underway.
Joel Montalbano, program manager for NASA’s International Space Station, insists the astronauts have never been in danger and have not noticed any damage to the ISS. NASA Mission Control in Houston, Texas, however, asked them at one point to look out the space station’s windows to see if they could spot any debris or damage the station.
The incident also delayed the launch of the Boeing Starliner’s unmanned test flight to the station, which was scheduled to launch on Friday.
“Spaceflight is difficult, and when we bring in new capabilities there can be problems, which is why we prepare and train for those eventualities,” said Kathy Lueders, associate administrator of the Directorate of the United Nations. NASA exploration and human operations mission.
NASA officials were quick to downplay the severity of the incident, describing it as a “pretty exciting hour” and a “dynamic event”.
“Until you’ve exhausted all of your contingency plans, that’s when you start to worry and today we just weren’t there,” Montalbano said.
Yet Montalbano also admitted that accidental thruster firing had only occurred “maybe three or four times” in the 20 years that the space station had been in orbit.
Lori Garver, the former NASA deputy administrator under the Obama administration, described the incident as “a reminder that our lack of knowledge of the capabilities of our Russian partners is an unchecked risk. I’m not sure we would have allowed any of our business partners to dock at (the) station if they had just encountered the issues we heard about in advance with this mod. “