Russian officials blamed Friday’s temporary loss of position at the International Space Station for a software issue on a newly docked science laboratory.
On Thursday, the space station lost control over its orientation for 47 minutes. Russian’s Nauka science laboratory accidentally fired its thrusters just hours after docking. This caused the orbiting complex to shift from its normal configuration. It is crucial that the station’s position is known in order to receive power from solar panels as well as communicate with support teams back at Earth. On Thursday, the space station’s communication with ground controllers was also interrupted twice.
Vladimir Solovyov was the flight director for the Russian segment of the space station. He claimed that a short-term software problem caused the accident. Roscosmos released a statement Friday saying that a direct command to start the engines of the laboratory’s engine had been misinterpreted.
He said that the incident was quickly remediated by the Russian propulsion system at the station. At the moment, the station’s orientation is normal and all its systems are “operating normally”.
Roscosmos director Dmitry Rogozin suggested Friday that a “human factor” might have been involved.
Rogozin stated in a radio interview that there was a lot of euphoria after Nauka docked successfully with the space station. People relaxed to some degree. “Perhaps one operator didn’t realize that the control system for the block will continue to adjust itself into space. It determined the docking time three hours later and then turned on the engines.
NASA stated Thursday that the incident caused the station to move 45 degrees from its original attitude. This is about one-eighth a complete circle. However, the complex was never spinning and there was no immediate danger or damage to the crew.
NASA had planned to cancel a second test flight of Boeing’s crew capsule, which was originally scheduled for Friday afternoon in Florida. This will be Boeing’s second attempt at reaching the station, which is 250 miles (400 km) high. The first test was canceled due to software problems.
Russia’s delayed 22-ton (20 metric-ton), lab named Nauka arrived earlier Thursday eight days after it launched from Baikonur, Kazakhstan.
Technical problems repeatedly caused delays in the launch of Nauka. This will allow for more space for scientific experiments as well as for crew members. It was originally scheduled to launch in 2007.
Experts discovered contamination in the fuel system in 2013. This led to a lengthy and expensive replacement. Other Nauka systems were also modernized or repaired.
Nauka, measuring 43 feet (13 m) in length, was the first new compartment to be created for the Russian section of the outpost since 2010. Nauka, measuring 43 feet (13 meters) in length, was the first new compartment for the Russian segment of the outpost since 2010.
To prepare Nauka for operation, it will need many maneuvers including 11 spacewalks starting in September.
Solovyov claims that Friday’s crew was busy equalizing pressure in Nauka, and they planned to open the hatch to lab later in the afternoon.
Current astronauts of NASA are Mark Vande Hei and Shane Kimbrough, Megan McArthur and Oleg Novitsky from Russia’s Roscosmos Space Corporation; Pyotr Dubrov and Oleg Novitsky from Russia’s Roscosmos Space Corporation; Akihiko Hishide, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, and Thomas Pesquet, European Space Agency.
Russia launched Zarya in 1998. In 2000, Zvezda was followed by Zvezda and three modules. In 2010, Rassvet arrived at the station.