International Space Station went out of control after mysterious firing of rockets on Russian craft Nauka, says Nasa
In what may have resulted in a massive tragedy, the International Space Station () was suddenly, and mysteriously, thrown into an emergency when the recently arrived Russian space module Nauka's rockets fired unexpectedly and threw the station out of its safe location in space. The module was already docked with the station and the firing of the rockets threw the International Space Station into an unforeseen emergency. Exactly what happened to the astronauts on it during the firing of the jet thrusters is unclear. Surprisingly, the firing of the rockets happened hours after the Russian module had docked with the space station, according to Nasa. The worst aspect was that all communication with the 7 astronauts on board the International Space Station was lost for several minutes on 2 occasions.
Everything had gone off normally before the accident happened. The Russian space module had arrived and docked without any major incident being reported. However, some 3 hours later, when Russian mission controllers were performing some post-docking tasks, the jet thrusters got ignited. The Space Station is perched as high as 250 miles up in the sky and when the jet thrusters fired, it caused the entire station to be knocked out of its safe location. When information was relayed to Earth, the mission's flight director declared a "spacecraft emergency," US space agency Nasa said.
The horrific movement of the Space Station from its safe location was first caught, not by scientists or astronauts, but automated ground sensors. The loss of 'attitude control' lasted as long as 45 minutes, NASA's space station program manager, Joel Montanbalo was quoted as saying by Reuters.
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Tug of war: However, putting the massive space station back in its orbit required another firing of jet thrusters, but this time from another space module. The emergency situation was so dangerous that Russian news agency RIA, quoting Nasa specialists, described the struggle to regain control of the space station as being a "tug of war" between the two modules.
ISS out of control: The movement of the out of control space station was extremely rapid and required swift action. The station was pitching out of alignment at the rate of about a half a degree per second, NASA officials revealed.
Emergency evacuation plans of astronauts: "Had the situation become so dangerous as to require evacuation of personnel, the crew could have escaped in a SpaceX crew capsule still parked at the outpost and designed to serve as a "lifeboat" if necessary, said Steve Stich, manager of NASA's commercial crew program.
Reuters reported that there are as many as 7 astronauts in the International Space Station. While two are Russians, three are from the US, one is Japanese and one is from France. Both NASA and RIA hurried to announce that none of the astronauts were ever in any immediate danger.
The cause of the emergency on the ISS triggered by the newly arrived Russian Nauka space module has not been revealed.