The arrival of a new module to the International Space Station did not go smoothly last night. Shortly after the Russian module Naukka docked, its thrusters unexpectedly turned on, causing the entire space station to spin.
It took over 45 minutes before flight control could stop the unwanted maneuver by thwarting with other thrusters. In the incident, communication with the space station was lost twice because the antennas were hijacked.
Although the cause of the malfunction is not yet clear, the space station has not suffered any known damage. In addition, according to NASA, the seven astronauts on board were never in danger. The three Americans, two Russians, a Japanese and a French would not even have noticed that the ISS was moving.
The arrival of the Nauka, with also on board a dutch robot arm, was originally scheduled for 2007. However, due to technical issues, the launch has been delayed several times. Also the trip to the ISS was already problematic by stalling the engines.
The new module should provide more space for science experiments. At least 11 more spacewalks are needed before Naukka (Russian for science) can be deployed.
Due to the incident, a test flight with Boeing’s new Starliner capsule had to be postponed for a few days. Its launch was scheduled for tomorrow, but because NASA wants to analyze the situation first, it has been decided to postpone the flight to August 3.
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