international space station tilted after thrusters on a russian craft fired unexpectedly
© Getty Images The International Space Station

The International Space Station was unexpectedly tilted on Friday after a test firing of thrusters on Russia’s Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft continued longer than expected. First reported by the New York Times, the personnel aboard the ISS were never in danger according to a statement from Russia’s Roscosmos space agency.

Ground teams for NASA and Roscosmos were able to regain control of the station about 30 minutes after it lost positioning control at 5:13AM ET. But it’s the second such incident aboard the ISS within the past year, and it occurred with a craft that is supposed to return to Earth early Sunday morning.

The incident started when cosmonaut Oleg Novitsky was testing the engines aboard the Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft, which is docked with the station. A NASA spokesperson told the Times that the Soyuz thruster firing unexpectedly continued past the time when the engine test was supposed to end.

In July, thrusters on Russia’s Nauka module fired “uncontrollably,” reorienting the ISS by about 45 degrees. It took about an hour to regain control, and NASA said at the time such incidents were rare.

A Russian film crew that went up to the ISS on October 5th for a movie shoot is supposed to return to Earth early Sunday aboard the Soyuz craft that had the thruster incident on Friday. The Times reported that the thruster incident delayed some of the movie’s filming schedule. NASA said the craft is still scheduled to undock from the ISS later on Saturday as planned.

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