A Russian spacecraft pushed the space station out of position and sent astronauts into emergency mode - again

The International Space Station is approaching from the Soyuz spaceship, carrying a Russian crew of film directors and a cosmonaut. October 5, 2021. NASA
On Friday morning, a Russian spaceship launched its thrusters and temporarily pushed the International Space Station from its position.

According to The New York Times, NASA instructed its astronauts to use emergency procedures.

Russian film crews are currently on the ISS. They will be returning the spaceship to Earth on Sunday.

Russian spacecraft moved the International Space Station from its original position Friday morning. This prompted astronauts to enter emergency mode. This is the second incident involving Russian hardware since July.

Cosmonaut Oleg Novitsky was performing engine tests on Soyuz spaceship docked to ISS on Friday morning, when its thrusters started firing too aggressively. The New York Times reported that the thrusters had moved the station from its normal orientation.

Although the exact cause of the problem is still unknown, NASA mission control Houston informed its astronauts that it had lost control over its orientation and advised them to use emergency procedures.

Roscosmos, Russia's space agency said later that the ISS orientation had been "temporarily altered" but that it was "swiftly restored," and that no one on board was in danger.

The space station was not moved for any length of time by either agency.

The International Space Station orbiting above Earth. NASA/Roscosmos

According to the Times, NASA flight director Timothy Creamer stated that "When things start going off-the-rails like that", there is enough noise on radar that it's difficult to determine what actually happened. This was according the Times.

Creamer stated that "we think" - although we haven’t confirmed - that thrusters stopped firing after they hit their prop limit. According to Creamer, the Times (prop) usually refers to propellant. "Moscow has begun to investigate it and is analyzing their data."

A Russian actress and director, in addition to the astronauts and cosmonauts who live on the orbiting laboratory's surface, are currently filming a movie onboard. They launched on Oct. 5 and will return to Earth using the same spaceship that caused the accident.

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According to the Times, NASA mission control stated that the incident delayed filming in the cupola window of the space station. It is unclear whether this incident will impact the Russian film crew's return to Earth schedule or the ability of the spaceship to make that trip.

In July, a different Russian spacecraft turned the ISS upside-down

NASA's livestream captures the Nauka module nearing its port on International Space Station. This was July 29, 2021. NASA via Youtube

It is the second time in a year that a Russian spacecraft has pushed ISS out of its position. Roscosmos launched a Nauka module to the ISS in July. Nauka started firing its thrusters immediately after docking to the station. This was to try to pull the station away from its football-field size. The ISS's four gyroscopes, which are used to keep it steady, got into a tug-of-war with the errant module.

Nauka's thrusters spun the ISS around 540° and flipped it upside-down before flight controllers regained command an hour later.

NASA claims that the crew was not in danger during that incident. The crew didn't feel the station shake or move.

However, Zebulon Scoville who was in charge NASA mission control on that day told the Times that this was his first "spacecraft emergency" declaration in seven years of flight director work.

NASA defines an emergency as "an abnormal state" that could lead to the destruction of the entire space station.

Scoville stated, "We knew that we had limited time."

Aylin Woodward contributed reporting.

Business Insider has the original article.