Russia’s space program continues to flounder as a malfunction on a docked Russian space module caused the International Space Station to shift from its normal orbital, the beleaguered Russian space agency Roscosmos announced late Tuesday.
NASA officials confirmed that the engines of Soyuz TMA-15M, one of two such craft docked at the station presently, unexpectedly fired at 10:27am Central time on Tuesday. The unplanned boost pushed the station out of its expected position.
The incident occurred while a test of the radio system that controls the docking procedure was being conducted.
In a statement, NASA said that “actions were immediately taken to reorient the ISS” and that “there was no threat to the crew or the station itself, and the issue will have no impact to a nominal return to Earth of the Soyuz TMA-15M on Thursday.”
TMA-15M is scheduled to re-enter Earth on Thursday, carrying three of the six crew members currently aboard the ISS. The European Space Agency’s Samantha Cristoforetti, Russia’s Anton Shkaplerov, and US astronaut Terry Virts will be returning home on in the capsule.
The three have been scheduled to be home sine May 14th, but have had to remain in orbit following the Russian loss of the Progress M-27M supply ship during a resupply mission to the ISS on April 28th.
This delay means Cristoforettim having spent 200 days in space, will break American Sunita Williams’ record for a woman’s time in space by five days.
Roscosmos still does not know the reason for the accidental engine ignition.