Russia blames ISS incident on software glitch | News | DW | 31.07.2021

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Russia blames ISS incident on software glitch

A Russian space agency chief said "a human factor" could have also played a role in the incident that briefly pushed the International Space Station off track.

The Nauka module docks with the ISS space station on Thursday

A software error could have been to blame for the Nauka thrusters switching on after docking

Russia said on Friday that a software failure caused thrusters on its new lab module to switch on and move the International Space Station (ISS) off course after the new module docked.

Engines on the new Nauka science lab switched on three hours after docking with the ISS on Thursday, pushing the whole space station out of position for 47 minutes before NASA ground crew managed to fix the problem.

Russian space agency bosses said they would work on changing a newly attached module which was at fault during the minor accident.

What has Russia said?

Vladimir Solovyov, the flight director for the Russia segment of the ISS, said that the situation had been contained on the Nauka.

"Due to a short-term software failure, a direct command was mistakenly implemented to turn on the module's engines for withdrawal, which led to some modification of the orientation of the complex as a whole," Solovyov said.

The head of the Russian space program Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, said "a human factor" could have been part of the problem.

The International Space Station from the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft

The International Space Station is growing in size every year

Rogozin said that the seven crew on board experienced "euphoria" after the new module docked successfully, after which "everybody got relaxed."

However, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitsky told concerned space fans not to "worry" after reading comments on Twitter.

"Our work at the International Space Station to integrate the newly arrived Nauka modulecontinues!" he tweeted.

What now for the ISS?

Two Russian cosmonauts, three NASA astronauts, a Japanese and a European astronaut — who were never in any danger during the incident — will now proceed in taking possession of their expanded space station.

"The crew is now busy balancing the pressure in the Nauka module," said Solovyov,

"In the afternoon, the crew will open the hatches, enter the module, turn on the necessary means of purifying the atmosphere and begin normal regular work."

Rogozin called the way the software glitch was handled by all "a very difficult and important victory" on Twitter.

The Nauka, which means "Science" in Russian, will add a new science lab and living quarters to the ISS complex.

The 22-ton (20-metric-ton) module is fitted with its own life support system that is now hermetically sealed onto the space station.

Rogozin said a new Russian space module would be launched to the ISS in November.

By then NASAꞌs delayed Boeing Starliner capsule could also be part of the growing space station, with its launch expected in early August.

jc/rs (Reuters, AP)

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