NASA, Russia stress space partnership remains strong after Nauka incident at space station


Following a serious incident in the International space station Last Thursday (July 29), Russia and the United States reaffirmed their partnership and shared the next steps moving forward.

Long-awaited Russia on Thursday Nauka research module docked at the orbiting laboratory. But the new module quickly ran into problems because, just a few hours after docking, its thrusters started firing unexpectedly, pulling the module away from the station and causing the space station to lose what engineers call “attitude control,” by rotating out of its normal orientation.

Ground crews from NASA and Russian space agency Roscosmos back to Earth, along with the station’s seven astronauts, worked to quickly remedy the situation, using countermeasures and opposing thrusters from other parts of the station to push the station back into its correct orientation. . And now Roscosmos and NASA officials are talking about what needs to happen next and what this event says about the future of US and Russian collaboration in space.

Related: Russian Nauka module tilts space station with unexpected thruster fire

Roscosmos and NASA said there appeared to be no damage from the incident and that the astronauts aboard the station were never in danger. Additionally, Roscosmos has now shared that “specialists” will be looking in more detail at the event and the possible implications it may have.

Roscosmos Human Space Program Director Sergei Krikalev highlighted in an interview with Russian state television that “it is up to the specialists to assess how we stressed the station and what are the consequences”, the Associated Press reported.

“The station is a pretty delicate structure,” he continued, “and the Russian and American segments are built as light as possible… additional load has put stress on the solar battery conductors and the frames they are mounted on. consequences, and it’s too early to tell how serious this was, but it was an unforeseen situation that requires detailed study. “

Roscosmos’ investigation into the incident came as no surprise and was anticipated by NASA.

“We expected Roscosmos would set up a commission to investigate the event, determine the root cause and any impact on their systems. NASA has asked its engineering teams to examine the station’s systems since then. event, and all preliminary scans show the station is operating normally, ”a NASA representative shared with, referring to similar comments made by NASA’s space station program director Joel Montalbano, after the July 29 incident.

While the situation caused by Nauka’s unexpected dysfunction certainly raised concern among the astronauts on board as well as many others on Earth, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said he was confident in the relationship. continued collaboration between the United States and Russia in space.

“I know that you and your team have worked tirelessly over the past few days to ensure that Nauka was docked safely and integrated into ISS operations and I would like to congratulate you on your outstanding efforts,” Nelson said in a letter. to the director of Roscosmos. Dmitry Rogozin. “Space cooperation continues to be a hallmark of US-Russian relations and I have no doubt that our joint work strengthens the ties that have bound our collaborative efforts over many years.”

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Nelson reiterated his confidence in US-Russian relations in space in August. 3 during his opening speech for the International Space Station Research and Development Conference.

“Last week we had a bit of unanticipated excitement with the docking of the new Roscosmos science lab module,” Nelson said. “Fortunately, our relationship with the Russians… has continued and has been a relationship of collaboration and partnership. And our ISS operations team was able to work with them.”

He went on to state that “we [NASA] have worked and collaborated with the Russians for decades and thus ensured the safety of the crew and the rapid return of the ISS to the right attitude. “

Citing previous successes of international collaborations, such as the space station’s Canadian-built robotic arm, Nelson shared his enthusiasm for the Nauka module and what it brings to the station. “The successful addition of the multipurpose lab module is good for our continued collaboration with the Russians. And so I’m excited about what the future holds,” he said.

Email Chelsea Gohd at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @chelsea_gohd. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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