A rather peculiar engine glitch has caused the International Space Station to slightly shift from its original orbit. Roscosmos explains that the crew is not in danger.
On Tuesday, June 9th, one of the two Soyuz spaceships currently docked at the International Space Station experienced a sudden engine start that pushed the ISS out of its intended orbit. One of these two Soyuz vehicles is expected to bring half of the ISS crew (including world-renowned Samantha Cristoforetti) back to earth later this week.
Though the exact reason for the malfunction isn’t known, Russian officials explain that the engine fired up at the time when rests of the radio system controlling the docking were being performed. It’s also unclear which of the two spaceships currently docked experienced the malfunction and whether this malfunction was spacecraft- or mission-control-related.
At this time, engineers and station specialists have already performed the necessary steps to ensure that the International Space Station returns to its rightful orbit.
The Soyuz spaceship engines only ran for approximately a minute, but it seems that was enough time to destabilize the station.
Tomorrow at precisely 9:43 PM EDT, Samantha Cristoforetti, Terry Virts and Anton Shkaplerov are scheduled to return to earth. According to the space agency, this recent glitch represents no threat to the success of the mission or the crew on the International Space Station.
Of course, in such cases, human error shouldn’t be discarded and, as Interfax sources state, the malfunction may have not actually been a malfunction but a wrong command sent out from Earth.
This mishap is only the latest in a series of multiple glitches aboard the International Space Station. After’s January’s emergency evacuation due to a suspected gas leak somewhere on the ISS, a major malfunction involving Progress M-27M (a resupply vehicle) had millions-of-dollars-worth of equipment hurling back towards Earth. The spacecraft began spinning uncontrollably after its launch and burned up upon its re-entry in the atmosphere.
Even the three crew members aboard the ISS have been there weeks longer than initially planned. Roscosmos delayed all manned missions to and from the station until the situation with Progress had been cleared up.
These three astronauts will be replaced with a team including a Russian, a Japanese and a US astronaut. They are scheduled to launch between the 23rd and the 25th of July from Kazakhstan.
Image Source: NASA
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