New Russian Lab Briefly Nudges The ISS Out Of Position

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The International Space Station was temporarily dislodged from its normal position by a Russian module (Credit: Roscosmos/NASA)

The seven astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) recently encountered an unexpected and potentially dangerous situation. The Russian laboratory module, Nauka, inadvertently fired its thrusters while docked at the ISS. The force nudged the space station out of its normal flight position for a short time.

Nauka embarked on its eight-day journey to the ISS from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on July 21, 2021. As expected, the spacecraft autonomously docked at the ISS on July 29, 2021. However, about three hours later, Nauka sprang back to life after a software glitch activated its thrusters. The accidental misfiring pushed the ISS out of its normal orientation by 45 degrees, or about one-eighth of a circle.

The Nauka module approaching the ISS on July 28, 2021 (Credit: NASA)

Fortunately, flight controllers on Earth were able to bring the ISS back into position with opposing thrusters fired from other Russian modules. The astronauts did not feel any movement during the 47-minute incident. However, the station's position is key to keeping its solar panels illuminated and its antennas in contact with Earth. Hence, the slight shift did result in a loss of communication with ground control twice. It was just for a few minutes each time.

Space station program manager Joel Montalbano later said that there were no immediate signs of damage to the station. Though the incident was declared a "spacecraft emergency," NASA officials assert that the astronauts aboard were never in any danger.

Nauka, which means "science" in Russian, weighs more than 22 tons and measures 42 feet (13 meters) long. It is the biggest space laboratory Russia has launched to date. The multi-purpose spacecraft is equipped with an oxygen generator, a spare bed, a toilet, and a large robotic arm from the European Space Agency. It is designed to provide the ISS crew with more living and research space.

Resources: Gizmondo.com, NASA.gov, Space.com

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44 Comments
  • rytavozidyge
    rytavozidyge4 months
    my dad flyes sadilites.
    • wafanyfumeno
      wafanyfumeno4 months
      at least they were not pushed out of earths orbit
      • layer
        layer5 months
        Wow
        • alexbasketball
          OMG
          • ultraviolet
            ultraviolet5 months
            thayed probably died if something really bad happened!!
            • sirtekalot818
              Wow 😂
              • pookpine
                pookpine5 months
                How did they not feel any of that?😲
                • pookpine
                  pookpine5 months
                  If I felt it, I would be holding on for dear life!
                  • hipersons
                    hipersons5 months
                    Its not like they pushed them off mount everest
                • sophiaholcomb
                  That would have been really scary! I wouldn't have liked when they lost communication with ground control. SCARY!!
                • pickabilly
                  pickabilly5 months
                  The ISS is like starwars
                  • jolie0402dogo
                    Gosh...they should have fired it more precisely!