Impact of ISS spin requires study

Vladimir Isachenkov

MOSCOW (AP) — Space engineers will analyse whether a glitch that caused the International Space Station (ISS) to spin out of its normal orientation could have impacted any of its systems, a Russian space official said on Wednesday.

Sergei Krikalev, the director of crewed space programmes at the Russian space corporation Roscosmos, emphasised that last week’s incident did not inflict any observable damage to the space station but he said that experts would need to study its potential implications.

“It appears there is no damage,” Krikalev said in an interview broadcast by Russian state television. “But it’s up to specialists to assess how we have stressed the station and what the consequences are.”

NASA emphasised on Wednesday that the station was operating normally and noted that the spin was within safety limits for its systems.

Thrusters on Russia’s Nauka laboratory module fired shortly after the module arrived at the ISS recently, making the orbiting outpost slowly spin about one-and-a-half revolutions. Russia’s mission controllers fired thrusters on another Russian module and a Russian cargo ship attached to the space station to stop rotation and then push the station back to its normal position.

Both United States (US) and Russian space officials said the station’s seven-person crew wasn’t in danger during the incident.

The station needs to be properly aligned to get the maximum power from solar panels and to maintain communications with space support teams back on Earth. The space station’s communications with ground controllers blipped out twice for a few minutes recently.

This July 29 image provided by NASA shows the 20-metric-tonne Nauka module, also called the Multipurpose Laboratory Module, as it approaches the International Space Station. PHOTO: AP