MOSCOW, August 4. /TASS/. There was no damage to the International Space Station (ISS) after the unplanned firing of the Russian Nauka research module’s thrusters during the docking operation, and specialists will now assess the consequences of the incident, Roscosmos Executive Director for Manned Space Programs Sergei Krikalyov told the Rossiya-24 TV Channel on Wednesday.
"There is, perhaps, no damage. But each cycle of such strain is taken into account in the service life. Nothing has broken off from the station, I can assure you. Specialists will now assess how much we have loaded the station and what the consequences are," the Roscosmos official said.
The incident during the docking of the Nauka module is an abnormal situation and has to be examined, Krikalyov said.
"The station is quite a delicate facility. Both the Russian and American segments were made with the utmost lightness. An additional load exerts strain on the solar panel drive and the framework, on which all these structures were installed," he explained.
The thrusters ignited in accordance with the safety algorithm of the module’s control system, which thought that the module was in free flight. The firing of the thrusters was unplanned and a special commission will look into the causes of the incident, the Roscosmos official said.
"The module, apparently, could not believe itself that it had already docked," he joked.
Russia’s latest Nauka multi-purpose research lab was launched from the Baikonur spaceport on July 21. After the module docked with the orbital outpost on July 29, NASA said in a live webcast that the module’s thrusters suddenly ignited at 12:45 p.m. EDT (7:45 p.m. Moscow time), causing the station to move out of orientation. NASA later said that ground teams had regained attitude control and the motion of the space station was stable. The crew was never in any danger, it added.
The Nauka multi-functional laboratory module is for implementing a Russian program of applied research and experiments. With the launch of the Nauka research module into operation, the Russian segment of the International Space Station will receive additional space for equipping workplaces, storing cargoes and accommodating water and oxygen regeneration equipment.
The Nauka module will provide a second toilet for Russian cosmonauts (the first is located in the Zvezda module) and a room for a third crewmember. It will also use the European Robotic Arm (ERA) that will help perform some operations without spacewalks.