The Nauka module (left), docked to the International Space Station, with a Soyuz spacecraft (right), parked nearby. Image via Roscosmos/ Gizmodo.
Nauka module mishap
The new Russian research module Nauka successfully docked with the International Space Station (ISS) late last week (July 29). But Nauka accidentally fired its thrusters, sending the space station into a spin. ISS briefly lost what pilots and engineers call attitude control. At first, NASA said on Twitter that ISS had tilted about 45 degrees. Later, it became clear the situation was more severe than NASA had initially reported. A NASA official told the New York Times on August 2:
That’s been a little incorrectly reported.
That statement came from Zebulon Scoville, the flight director who led NASA’s Mission Control center in Houston, Texas, during the July 29 tumbling event. In his Times interview, Scoville described how the ISS spun 1 1/2 revolutions – about 540 degrees – before coming to a stop upside down. The space station then did a 180-degree forward flip to get back to its original orientation.
NASA officials reportedly confirmed the accuracy of Scoville’s statements with Space.com. To provide insight into where “45 degrees” came from, one representative said: