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Russian Module's Engines Fire Unexpectedly After Docking With ISS

The Nauka module docked with the International Space Station on July 29.
The Nauka module docked with the International Space Station on July 29.

A Russian space-laboratory module unexpectedly fired its engines on July 29 after successfully docking with the International Space Station (ISS), changing the position of the ISS until another set of thrusters could be fired.

NASA said the newly arrived module’s engines fired as it was in the process of being integrated into ISS systems. It said the reason for the unplanned firing was unknown.

The station returned to "full attitude control" when another module in the ISS fired its engines, NASA said, adding that the astronauts and cosmonauts on board were never in any danger.

NASA and the Russian space agency Roskosmos said earlier that the so-called Nauka module, which means "science" in Russian, docked with the ISS at 1:29 p.m. GMT.

The docking took place eight days after the 20-metric-ton multipurpose laboratory module was launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Nauka is one of the largest modules on the ISS. The docking was performed after a series of maneuvers controlled by Russian mission-control specialists and Russian cosmonauts aboard the ISS.

NASA says it will take several months and up to 11 spacewalks to fully integrate the module with the space station.

The launch of Nauka has been repeatedly delayed because of technical problems.

It was initially scheduled to be sent into orbit in 2007.

In 2013, experts discovered contamination in its fuel system -- resulting in a long and costly replacement.

Other Nauka systems also have undergone modernization or repairs during the past 14 years.

Nauka will be primarily used for research. But it also provides the space station with more storage space, new water and oxygen regeneration systems, and an additional toilet.

Nauka replaces the long-serving Pirs docking module, which docked with the ISS in 2001 as a temporary addition but remained in service for two decades.

Pirs was detached from the ISS earlier this week and fell into the Pacific Ocean.

Based on reporting by AP, AFP, TASS, Reuters, and
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