The International Space Station (ISS) was momentarily pushed out of control after the newly arriving Russian Science Lab malfunctioned and fired its boosters. According to NASA officials, the incident occurred after the module’s jet thrusters accidentally ignited a few hours after docking at the orbiting outpost.
Russian cosmonauts onboard had to check for leaks between the service module and the 22-tonne lab, called Nauka, after automated sensors on the ground noticed the problem. Communication between ground controllers and the ISS was also disrupted two times for a few minutes.
However, it is yet unknown why Nauka's thrusters malfunctioned.
NASA assured that the team of astronauts onboard the ISS is not and was never in any danger, adding that ground staff has regained command and the movement of the space station is steady.
Joel Montalbano, manager of the space station program at NASA, stated that at the peak of the event, the International Space Stations was sliding out of alignment at a rate of approximately half a degree each second. Montalbano went on to say that the crew truly did not sense any movement.
Russian space authorities were also unfazed, as Roscosmos chief, Dmitry Rogozin, tweeted that everything is in order at the ISS. The team is relaxing, and recommend everyone else to do the same.
The 13-meter-long module was launched last week from Kazakhstan and took eight days to reach the International Space Station, where it will give offer space for scientific research. It was supposed to go up in 2007, but the launch was pushed back owing to a slew of technical issues, including contamination in its fuel system in 2013.
It will now require a series of maneuvers, possibly up to 11 spacewalks, before it can be utilized.
The event forced NASA to postpone a test mission for a Boeing capsule from Florida scheduled for August 3rd, 2021. Boeing planned to make a second effort to reach the 250-mile-high International Space Station (ISS) after software issues caused the first test to fail.