A short-term software problem caused Russian's new module's recent mishap, the country's space agency claimed. The thrusters on the module suddenly ignited hours after its installation, causing the International Space Station to move out of its stable position. A software glitch made Nauka module thought it was intended to move away from the station.
Science Times previously reported that the football field-sized space station flying 270 miles above the Earth, tilted 45 degrees off course when Nauka's thrusters fired. After thrusters from another Russian module countered Nauka's erroneous firings, NASA lost power at the station's location minutes later. Still, it was finally reverted back to normal.
Vladimir Solovyov, the flight director of the Russian section of the space station, said in a statement that a direct command was incorrectly implemented to switch on the module's engines for departure due to a short-term software malfunction. According to Solovyov, the incident resulted in certain changes to the complex's overall direction.
NASA's space station manager Joel Montalbano said Roscosmos would lead the inquiry into the erroneous thruster firings and keep its US partners updated on any repairs. Boeing's planned launch of an uncrewed Starliner spacecraft to the International Space Station, scheduled for Friday at 2:53 p.m. ET, has been delayed, Space.com said. But in a recent Science Times report, the space agency has rescheduled the launch until Tuesday, August 3rd at 1:20 p.m. ET.
Nauka Is Operating Normally, Solovyov Said
Solovyov said per Reuters that the space station and its new Russian module are now working normally. The Nauka module's pressure is now balanced by the crew, Space.com added. Because the module's total capacity is about 70 cubic meters, this is a very long process. The team will open the hatches, enter the module, switch on the required purification systems, and resume regular work in the afternoon.
Russia is currently represented aboard the orbiting laboratory by cosmonauts Oleg Novitsky and Pyotr Dubrov. Yesterday, the pair were preparing to open the paired hatches connecting Nauka to the rest of the station when the module's thrusters started firing, pushing and shifting the space station until main engines on the Russian Zvedza service module and the Russian cargo ship Progress 78 was able to reverse the misfire.
ISS Nauka Incident Serious
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics Jonathan McDowell told Gizmodo that the recent incident in the International Space Station is among the "most serious" accidents in its 24-year existence. He went on to say that losing control of one's altitude poses a risk of the complex collapsing.
A similar occurrence occurred in 2016, according to the physicist. It was broken apart when the Japanese Hitomi satellite threw it into an uncontrolled spin. The ISS event, he claims, is not similar. The space station is unlikely to have suffered any structural damage. However, a 400-tonne station with large flexible components like solar panels should not be collapsing end over end.
He also expressed his concern over the wired connections' safety from the outside to the space station.
Check out more news and information on Space in Science Times.