NASA postponed until at least Aug. 3 its launch of Boeing’s new CST-100 Starliner capsule scheduled on July 30 after the International Space Station (ISS) was thrown briefly out of control on Thursday after Russian Nauka module thrusters unexpectedly turned on after it docked to the orbiting outpost, Reuters reports.
NASA and Russian state-owned news agency RIA noted that the malfunction never put in any immediate danger Nauka’s seven crew members with the Russian space agency Roscosmos confirming the module was being switched into ‘docked with the ISS’ mode and its remaining fuel was being dealt with.
Steve Stich, manager of NASA’s commercial crew program, pointed that in case of immediate danger, the crew could have escaped in a SpaceX crew capsule parked at the outpost and designed to serve as a “lifeboat” if necessary.
The ISS’s orientation was restored by flight teams on the ground that activated thrusters on another module of the orbiting platform and it’s yet to be determined what has caused the malfunction of the thrusters on the Nauka module, delivered by the Roscosmos.
The Starliner’s highly anticipated unmanned test flight to ICC should’ve happen atop an Atlas V rocket from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida with NASA and Boeing launch teams assessing the next available opportunity.
In the meantime, ISS team will have time to continue working checkouts of Nauka module and ensure the station will be ready for Starliner’s arrival.