The arrival of a new module of the ISS International Space Station didn‘t go completely flawless last night. Shortly after the Russian Nauka module was mounted, its thrusters came on unexpectedly, causing the entire space station to run.
It took more than 45 minutes for the flight control to stop the unintended maneuver by counteracting other thrusters. In the event of the incident, communication with the space station dropped twice as the antennas were turned away.
Although it is not yet clear what caused the defect, the space station has not suffered any damage to the extent known. Also, according to NASA, the seven astronauts on board have never been in danger. The three Americans, two Russians, a Japanese and a Frenchman would not even have noticed the ISS was moving.
The arrival of the Naukah, with a Dutch robotic arm on board, was originally planned for 2007, but due to technical problems, the launch was postponed time and time again. The trip to the ISS was already problematic because of faltering engines.
The new module should provide more room for scientific experiments. Before Naukah (Russian for Science) can be put into operation, at least eleven space walks are needed.
The incident requires a pilot flight of Boeing’s new Starliner capsule to be postponed for several days. The launch was scheduled for tomorrow, but since NASA wants to analyse the situation properly first, it was chosen to postpone the flight to 3 August.