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ICT Spring - 2022

Software failure caused misfiring and tilted ISS during Nauka docking


Nauka module, docked to the Zvezda port; Credits: NASA/Wikipedia

Athens, 2 August 2021. – A software failure caused a thruster misfiring and tilted the International Space Station (ISS) during the docking of the Russian science module Nauka, space agencies and media reports said on Friday.

Nauka inadvertently started to fire its thrusters after its successful docking to the ISS and tilted the station, causing a loss of attitude control for around 45 minutes, the reports said.

“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,” Roscosmos said in a statement.

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Endeavour, which is currently also docked to the ISS, was “powered up” in case of a crew emergency, a NASA official said.

But there was no danger for the crew, NASA said. The drift of the ISS was countered by the firing of the Zvezda module, the crew gained back control and the Russian crew could eventually enter the station, the reports said.

The launch of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner vehicle for an uncrewed test flight to the ISS, called Orbital Flight Test (OFT) 2, originally scheduled for Friday, was postponed by NASA to the 3 August.

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