A glitch in a Russian spacecraft docked at the International Space Station (ISS) caused the space station's position in orbit to change on Tuesday, according to Roscosmos, the Russian Federal Space Agency. However, crew members on board the ISS were not in danger.
Roscosmos said that a Soyuz spacecraft, docked at the orbiting laboratory, suddenly initiated when astronomers were testing the radio system, which controls the spacecraft’s docking procedure. The agency also said that required measures were taken to stabilize the ISS. Scientists are trying to determine what caused the spacecraft engines to start, the Associated Press (AP) reported.
Two Soyuz spacecraft are currently docked at the space station, and one of them is scheduled to be used to return three of the six Expedition 43 crew members to Earth this week. Roscosmos did not say which Soyuz spacecraft had encountered the malfunction, but stated that the upcoming landing would not be affected, the AP reported.
Tuesday’s glitch follows the failure of an unmanned Russian cargo spacecraft last month. The Progress 59 cargo spacecraft, which was launched on April 28, was hanging around in orbit after a failed attempt to carry supplies to the ISS, before it burnt up while re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere.
Roscosmos also announced new Soyuz and Progress spacecraft launch dates on Tuesday. The next Soyuz mission carrying three Expedition 44 crew members is scheduled for sometime between July 23 and July 25, the space agency said. Another Soyuz mission, which will carry Flight Engineer Sergey Volkov to the ISS and return Commander Gennady Padalka to Earth, is scheduled for launch on Sept. 1, while Expedition 46 will launch on Dec. 15.
“Three Progress cargo missions were also rescheduled. The first resupply mission is set for July 3 and the next two are planned for Sept. 21 and Nov. 21,” NASA said, citing Roscosmos.