Today saw serious drama in low Earth orbit when the Nauka module arrived, and for unknown reasons, started to fire its thrusters upon docking with the ISS. The situation appears to be ongoing and mission controllers are working to manage it.
NASA claims that the crew is safe and nothing appears to have been damaged. However, things turned sour after Russia's Nauka module touched down at the International Space Station at 9 :29 AM EDT.
After docking and rendezvous, ISS crew members got to work. They checked for leaks at the interface point and opened the hatch. Then, they integrated computers onto the Nauka module (also known as the Russian Multipurpose Laboratory).
At 12:45 p.m. ET, Naukas thrusters suddenly and unexpectedly started to fire. NASA TV livestreamed that the ISS lost attitude control by 45 degrees. The cause of the situation is still unknown. It is possible that Naukas computers believed that it was still docking, which led to the thrusters being fired. However, this is not confirmed.
The space station was reoriented by flight controllers who performed a counterbalancing roll control procedure. This was accomplished by firing thrusters at the Progress cargo ship docked to ISS and the Russian Zvezda modular. The recovery effort was successful and the ISS is now in its normal orientation. Crew members are safe and sound, with the station now in full attitude control. NASA stated that no crew members were in danger during the incident.
Drew Morgan, NASA mission control, asked astronauts to look outwards and see if there was any debris or damage to the station. NASA claims that the ISS is in a stable configuration and that recovery operations are ongoing.
It should be noted that this work is being done using a partially-fueled Nauka, which docks to the station. The thrusters can still take action. UPDATE 3:49 PM EDT: Anatoly Zak, Russian Space Web's reporter, reported that Nauka has consumed all of its propellent so any threat of more firings by thrusters appears to have passed.
Rumours are already circulating that tomorrow's launch of an uncrewed Boeing Starliner could be cancelled due to this incident. UPDATE: 3 :54 p.m. ET: It is official that Friday's Starliner launch has been cancelled. We are currently awaiting a new date to lift off.
The crew and mission controllers at the surface continue to monitor the situation. Regular activities have been canceled at ISS for today. It is still not clear why Naukas thrusters started to fire. An investigation is currently underway. We are currently investigating the incident and will update this article as soon as we have more information.
Continue reading: Russia's Nauka module docks with the International Space Station