20 ton Nauka module successfully docks with ISS but later causes scare with misfiring thrusters (Updated)

by | Jul 30, 2021 | History, International Space Station, NASA, Russia, Satellites, Seradata News, Space politics

Following a troubled eight-day voyage the Nauka module has successfully docked with the International Space Station (ISS), the first Russian module to do so in 11 years. Docking occurred at 1329 GMT on 29 July, according to on-board telemetry. The module approached the station autonomously using its KURS programme. It was the intention that for the final few metres it would be taken under manual control by the resident Cosmonauts, Oleg Novitsky and Pyotr Dubrov. However, later reports indicate that despite commands to do so, the KURS system did not deactivate and in fact carried out the procedure

A screen-grab of the KURS system conducting its approach to the ISS. Courtesy of Roscosmos/NASA

Once docked, it and the station proceeded to “hard lock” as clamps on both parties made the module secure. This is a necessary procedure to ensure a firm pressure seal to allow the on-board crew to open the airlock.

Initially planned for approximately three hours post-docking, the hatch-opening was suddenly curtailed when the thrusters on the Nauka module started to fire unexpectedly. This reportedly began at about 1645 GMT. The station was forced to begin firing its own thrusters (and even those on the currently docked Progress MS-17 freighter) to counter the effects of the module’s engines. This came to a stop after the remaining fuel on-board Nauka was used up. At the end of the event, the station had been rotated 540 degrees.  The ISS was then recovered to a normal attitude by the thrusters on the Progress MS-17.

Following the incident, Roscosmos released a statement identifying a software issue as the cause. It seems the module received wrong information that led it to think it was still trying to dock with the station.

A shot from a camera on-board the ISS of the Nauka module now docked. Courtesy of Roscosmos/NASA

 

Now that this problem has been resolved – and there are reports that an investigation is to be conducted – the original integration plan for the new module can commence. This entails six-to-eight months of work and will require up to 10 spacewalks to be made by the crew, mainly conducted by the resident Cosmonauts. Once operational the new module will greatly improve the Russian Segment of the ISS. For the crew, Nauka will supplement the functions of the primary Zarya block by generating oxygen and water and, specifically for the visiting Cosmonauts, it has space to host one further crew member. It is also equipped with a second toilet for use in the Russian Segment.

Update by David Todd on 2 August 2021: It has since been revealed by the Russian space agency/conglomerate Roscosmos that in an unrelated incident, a separate Russian ISS module called Zvezda had sprung a slow air leak two weeks before the docking of Nauka had occurred. The Zvezda module has previously suffered such air leaks which Roscosmos had thought had been successfully sealed up by the Russian cosmonauts aboard. They are are attempting to reseal an apparently leaking again fissure in Zvezda‘s transfer compartment.

About Seradata

Seradata produce the renowned SpaceTrak Launch & Satellite Database. Trusted by 100 of the world’s leading Space organisations, SpaceTrak is a fully queryable database used for market analysis, failure/risk assessment, spectrum analysis and space situational awareness (SSA).

For more information go to www.seradata.com/spacetrak

Related Articles

Cracking Up: Russian space engineering chief warns that aging International Space Station’s safety cannot be guaranteed

Vladimir Soloyov, Chief Engineer at the spacecraft manufacturer Energia, has noted via the RIA News Agency that the International Space Read more

ISS loses Pirs module but replacement on the way

It is a time of renewal at the International Space Station as one long-standing module is removed to be replaced Read more

Nauka module limps towards ISS after suffering multiple issues in orbit following successful Proton launch (Updated)

The newest ISS module, known as Nauka, was launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, by a Proton M at 1458 GMT Read more

Cosmonauts ready the ISS for a new module

Cosmonauts Oleg Novitsky and Pyotr Dubrov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, completed their spacewalk to continue the decommissioning of Read more

Rogozin confirms that Russia will leave International Space Station in 2025

Dmitry Rogozin, head of the Russian space agency/conglomerate Roscosmos, has formally confirmed that Russia will be leaving the International Space Read more

Russia launches third Tundra next-generation Early-warning satellite

The second Soyuz rocket to launch in under 24 hours lifted-off from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome, Russia, at 0746 GMT, 26 Read more

Final Soyuz-FG rocket lifts Soyuz MS-15 mission to the ISS carrying the first Emirati astronaut into orbit

At 1357 GMT on 25 September, a Soyuz-FG rocket lifted off from Launch Site No. 1/5 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Read more

Russia launches Progress cargo craft to resupply the ISS

At 1211 GMT on 31 July 2019, a Russian Soyuz 2-1A rocket lifted-off carrying the PROGRESS MS-12 cargo freighter to Read more

Categories

Archives

Tags