Sunday , September 26 2021

Russia blames the software bug after the space station was briefly out of control

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MOSCOW – A technical error in the software and a possible loss of human attention were to blame for leaving the International Space Station out of control, but work was underway to activate a module recently connected to the center of the mishap, they said Friday Russian space officials.

The jet propulsors of the Russian research module Nauka inadvertently restarted on Thursday a few hours after docking at the space station, causing the entire orbital outpost to come out of its normal flight position about 250 miles above Earth with seven crew members on board.


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According to NASA’s account of the incident, the mission’s flight director immediately declared an emergency in spaceflight as field engineers struggled to regain the stability of the search satellite.

Attitude control over the station was lost for 45 minutes, as ground flight crews activated the thrusters in another module of the outpost and on a separate cargo ship docked previously at the complex to restore its correct. alignment, NASA told reporters Thursday.

During this time station, which measures the length of an American football field, it was slowly launched end-to-end at a maximum speed of about half a degree per second, equivalent to almost four rotations per hour, according to NASA.

Communication with the crew was also lost twice for several minutes during the emergency.

On Friday, Vladimir Solovyov, general designer of Energy, a Russian space agency company, tried to reassure international partners that the incident had been contained and said cosmonauts would have Nauka, the Russian word for “science “, which will work soon.

“Due to a short-term software error, a direct command was mistakenly implemented to start the module’s engines to remove it, which resulted in a change in the overall orientation of the complex,” he said. in a statement.


“The crew is now busy balancing the pressure on the Nauka module. In the afternoon, the crew will open the hatches, enter the module, activate the means necessary to purify the atmosphere and begin normal work.


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Dmitry Rogozin, head of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, later said the lack of human attention could have been implicated.

“Everything was going well, but there was a human factor. There was some euphoria (after a successful mating), everyone relaxed, ”Komsomolskaya Pravda website was quoted as saying.

NASA and Roscosmos said the seven crew members on board (two Russian cosmonauts, three American astronauts and two more from Japan and France) were never in immediate danger.

Both agencies also said the situation was resolved in a relatively short time, with no apparent damage to the space station. But NASA space station program manager Joel Montalbano said he could only recall two or three previous occasions in the history of the orbiting lab of more than 20 years that the propellers of a docked vehicle or module had failed thus.

The setback also caused NASA to postpone the planned launch of Boeing Co’s Starliner space capsule on a long-awaited, unmanned test flight to the space station. The blast, which had been scheduled for Friday from Cape Canaveral, Florida, has now been temporarily rolled back on Aug. 3.

Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitsky, who is on board, told his Twitter followers on Friday not to worry.

“Dear friends, I am reading your many comments. Don’t worry! Our work at the International Space Station to integrate the newly arrived Nauka module continues! Tonight we will open the doors. I will keep you up to date! “


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Roscosmos said Russian specialists were remotely completing controls on Nauka engines to ensure continued safety and that the station was on its normal flight path.

It was said that the assembly of the module had been successful in another way.

Rogozin, head of Roscosmos, hailed the arrival of Nauka the day before as “a very difficult and important victory for us” and warmly accepted the Twitter congratulations from space entrepreneur Elon Musk.

Rogozin also talked about plans to launch another Russian module at the station in November.

Roscosmos has suffered a number of incidents and corruption scandals, including during the construction of the Vostochny Cosmodrome in the far east of the country, where contractors were accused of embezzling state funds. (Report by Alexander Marrow and Andrew Osborn in Moscow; Additional Report by Maria Tsvetkova in Moscow and Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Edited by Giles Elgood, William Maclean and David Gregorio)



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