Russian module knocked the ISS off the ground

On Thursday, a Russian module briefly knocked the International Space Station off its seat after it accidentally started its engines.

For 47 minutes, the space station lost control of its attitude when a firing occurred hours after docking, pushing the orbital complex out of its normal configuration.

Station position is key to generating power from solar panels and/or communications. Communication with ground controllers was also interrupted twice for several minutes.

Flight controllers restored engine control to other Russian components on the station to level the craft, NASA said, and it is now stable and safe.

“We didn’t notice any damage,” Space Station program manager Joel Montalbano said at an evening press conference.

“The crew was never in immediate danger.”

Montalbano said the crew did not feel any movement or shaking. NASA said the station has moved 45 degrees, about one-eighth of a full circle.

According to NASA spokesman Bob Jacobs, the complex has never rotated.

NASA Chief of Human Space Flight Kathy Lueders called it “a pretty exciting hour.”

The incident forced NASA to postpone a re-test flight of the Boeing crew capsule scheduled for Friday afternoon from Florida.

This will be Boeing’s second attempt to reach the station at 250 miles before boarding the astronauts; software problems ruined the first test.

The Russian 22-tonne (20-meter) laboratory, called Nauka, arrived very late on Thursday, eight days after launching from the Russian launch complex at Baikonur in Kazakhstan.

The Nauka launch, which will provide more room for science experiments and space for the crew, has been repeatedly delayed due to technical problems. It was originally planned that it would increase in 2007.

In 2013, experts discovered contamination of its fuel system, which led to a lengthy and costly replacement. Other Nauka systems were also upgraded or repaired.

Stretching 43 feet (13 meters) long, Nauka is the first new bay for the Russian segment of the outpost since 2010.

On Monday, one of the old Russian blocks, the Pirs exit compartment, undocked from the station to make way for a new laboratory.

Science will need a lot of maneuvering, including up to 11 spacewalks starting in early September, to get it ready to go.

The space station is currently operated by NASA astronauts Mark Vande Hey, Shane Kimbrough and Megan MacArthur; Oleg Novitsky and Petr Dubrov of the Russian space corporation Roskosmos; Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Akihiko Hoshide and European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Peske.

In 1998, Russia launched the first compartment of the Zarya station, followed in 2000 by another large part of the Zvezda, and in subsequent years by three more smaller modules. The last of these, Dawn, arrived at the station in 2010.

Russian space officials downplayed the incident with Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin, tweeting: “Everything is fine on the ISS. The crew is resting, which I advise you to do.”