The International Space Station unexpectedly moved into orbit on Thursday as the propellers of the recently docked Russian module began firing uncontrollably. The propellers headed for a football field-sized lab station up to 45 degrees, NASA said. The station is back in control, a NASA spokesman said, and its crew of seven astronauts, including three U.S. astronauts, are safe, the agency said.
Faulty propeller bombing of Russia’s Nauka module, a new 23-ton multifunctional laboratory, began at 12:25 ET, a few hours after it was docked at the ISS. On the other side of the space station, from Russia’s Zvezda service module, propellers were pushed to combat Nauka’s forces, according to NASA’s mission surveillance communications, as a “tug of war”.
“Just to update you,” Drew Morgan, a communications supervisor in charge of the operation, told U.S. astronauts in Houston, “right now we’re in a bit of a battle between the propellers firing both [service module] and [Nauka]. We are sorting out the best practices at the moment. “
About 10 minutes later, operation control in Houston and Moscow regained control of the station. ” [Nauka] the propellers no longer shoot, we’re in position control again, prices are stable, ”Morgan told U.S. astronauts. “It’s safe to say the rest of the day is no longer on schedule.”
NASA spokesman Rob Navias said the crew was safe. The accident forced NASA to postpone Boeing’s unplanned launch of the Starliner capsule to the ISS, which was scheduled for Friday at 2:53 p.m. ET. The next opportunity to launch the mission would be Tuesday at 1:20 p.m., but NASA and the Air Force will negotiate a possible time on Saturday.
Nauka, which means Russian-language science, started last Wednesday at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, Russia, when problems with the module’s control system caused weeks in the 11th hour. Although the module was launched last week, the module is unusually old – development began in 1995 and was originally scheduled to launch in 2007. But launch delays and several changes to its design and purpose pushed its deployment for years.
Nauka got into trouble almost as soon as he arrived in space. The spacecraft used its solar panels for 13 minutes after launch, without problems, but pushing and communication issues prevented the spacecraft from entering its intended orbit. Moscow’s engineers and operation management set about inventing a repair that eventually launched the spacecraft’s secondary propellers to prevent Nauka from falling out of orbit and burning into Earth’s atmosphere.
Nauka regained its foothold in normal orbit and continued its eight-day journey to the space station, where it docked independently.