Stunning NASA timelapse shows Aurora Borealis from space
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The uncrewed Nauka module docked to the Russian segment of the space station today (July 29), eight days after launching from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Nauka, which is the Russian word for “science”, was docked at 2.29pm BST (9.29am EDT). By 5.45pm BST (12.45pm EDT) cosmonauts Oleg Novitsky and Pyotr Dubrov moved to the space station’s Zvezda module to open up the hatches between the two when Nauka’s thrusters unexpectedly fired.
The mishap, which NASA described as “unplanned”, caused the space station to briefly lose attitude control.
NASA confirmed the thrusters tilted the space station out of orientation by about 45 degrees.
To prevent the ISS from being pushed off course, another spacecraft docked to the orbital lab was briefly engaged.
Four spacecraft are presently docked to the ISS, including SpaceX’s Crew-2 Dragon, and Russia’s Soyuz MS-18 and the Progress 78 cargo ship.
Space Station: The Nauka module unexpectedly fired its thrusters (Image: NASA)
Space Station emergency: Russia’s Nauka module in space (Image: ROSCOSMOS)
Ground control teams have since confirmed control has been restored to the ISS and the space station is stable.
The ISS orbits the planet at an altitude of about 253 miles (408km), circling the globe at speeds of more than 17 miles per hour.
NASA’s Norah Moran said: “The crew was never and is not in any danger, and flight controllers in Mission Control Houston are monitoring the status of the space station.”
NASA’s official Twitter account also said: “@Space_Station crew members are safe and will scrub their schedules for today in order to focus on recovery efforts following the unexpected loss of attitude caused by the Russian Nauka module’s thrusters firing.
Space Station emergency: Spacecraft docked to the ISS right now (Image: NASA)
“The station is back in attitude control and is in good shape.”
Thankfully, according to Russian space journalist Anatoly Zak, Nauka has burned through all of its remaining fuel so another tussle with the ISS is out the question.
Nauka is Russia’s latest contribution to the international space laboratory.
Officially branded as a Multipurpose Laboratory Module (MLM), Nauka will serve as a science research hub for the Russian segment of the ISS.
International Space Station fact sheet: Incredible facts about the ISS (Image: EXPRESS)
Nauka docked to the ISS after having to perform a number of corrective burns on its way to the space station.
According to Russia’s space agency, Roscosmos, the module “performed several firings of the module’s engines to raise and correct the orbit” to meet the ISS on time.
The unexpected mishap has forced NASA to delay Friday’s planned launch of the Boeing Starliner spacecraft.
The “space taxi” capsule was due to launch to the ISS on its second attempt to dock with the space station on Friday, July 30.
But the launch has now been pushed back to an unspecified date.
The spacecraft was being built alongside SpaceX’s Crew Dragon but is yet to earn its wings.
NASA said: “NASA and Boeing have decided to stand down from Friday’s launch attempt of the agency’s Orbital Flight Test-2 mission.
“Currently, launch teams are assessing the next available opportunity.
“The move allows the International Space Station team time to continue working checkouts of the newly arrived Roscosmos’ Nauka module and to ensure the station will be ready for Starliner’s arrival.”