Yesterday was a big day aboard ISS as, after many years of delay, a new Russian ISS module arrived and docked with the space station. That module is the Multipurpose Laboratory Module named Nauka. The new ISS module docked with the station at 9:29 AM EDT, and shortly after that, Russian cosmonauts conducted leak checks between the module and the service module it attached to.
After Nauka docked with the ISS at 12:45 PM, the flight control team monitoring ISS noticed an unplanned firing of the new module’s thrusters. The thruster firing caused the space station to move out of orientation. However, ISS ground control teams were able to regain attitude control and stabilize the motion of the space station.
NASA says the ISS crew was never in any danger from the unplanned firing. Mission control Houston is currently monitoring the space station status, and teams are also monitoring any potential impact to the launch of Boeing Starliner scheduled for today. As of now, there is no indication of what caused the unplanned thruster firing.
Nauka replaced the Pirs docking station and an attached Russian cargo spacecraft. Earlier this week, the Pirs module was detached from the ISS. The Russian Progress cargo ship the old docking port was attached to was used to push both spacecraft into the atmosphere of Earth, where they burned up.
Nauka is more than a science laboratory. It also acts as an airlock, docking port and has an extra bed and its own toilet facilities inside. Pirs had been attached to the space station for almost 20 years. Nauka had been delayed for multiple years, and some had begun to suspect it would never make it into orbit.