Nasa has decided to push back Friday’s launch of the agency’s unmanned flight to the International Space Station as engineers were dealing with mishaps at Russia’s new module that arrived earlier that day.
Nasa said in a statement late on Thursday that the Starliner flight is now scheduled to blast off next Tuesday.
“The moves allows the space station team time to continue working checkouts of the newly arrived Roscosmos’ Nauka module and to ensure the station will be ready for Starliner’s arrival,” Nasa tweeted.
The International Space Station briefly tilted late on Thursday as jet thrusters of the new Russian research module unexpectedly fired just a few hours after it arrived.
Russia’s Nauka module successfully docked with the orbiting outpost after an eight-day journey that was marred with mishaps.
Nasa said late on Thursday that Nauka’s thrusters started firing up several hours after its arrival, “moving the station out of orientation."
For 47 minutes, the station's position was of control before ground teams used thrusters on other Russian components to adjust the station's position.
Russian officials insisted that the six-member crew aboard the station was never in danger.
Kathy Lueders called the incident "a pretty exciting hour" while Russian space officials downplayed the mishap with Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Roscosmos, tweeting: "All in order at the ISS. The crew is resting, which is what I advise you to do as well."
Nauka, which was supposed to have been launched 14 years earlier, is expected to serve as Russia’s main research facility in space, also features an oxygen generation system, a spare cabin for one crewmember and an additional toilet - facilities crucial for the Russian segment as Dragon Crew ships are going to be bringing more astronauts for new manned missions.
Nauka was first conceived in the 1990s and spent years on the ground as engineers battled with various production defects and, most recently, the contamination of its fuel system.
The 20-tonne Nauka is the first new compartment for the Russian segment of the outpost since 2010.
On Monday, one of the older Russian units, the Pirs spacewalking compartment, undocked from the station to free up room for the new lab.
Nauka will require up to 11 spacewalks beginning in early September to prepare it for operation.