The Russian thrusters that moved the International Space Station on Friday night were accidentally rewiring because of a recent system upgrade, NASA and the Federal Space Agency said today.
The spacesuit-wearing astronauts and cosmonauts at the helm of the orbiting lab had to descend to the Earth again Saturday, their orange seats flailing in a 20-degree gale. A dramatic red light atop the 420-ton space station commanded their return. The last move was to complete the move of the ISS’s Pirs docking compartment to the new Zvezda service module, which was installed in 2011.
At its height, the International Space Station spanned 260 miles, or 720 kilometers, with a diameter of nearly 200 feet. It sits in orbit as a bright, white sphere bobbing against the backdrop of Earth.
The $100 billion lab has been serving as a laboratory and proving ground for the NewSpace industries. The space station is under construction as well, with Russia’s Boeing-built Soyuz craft already flying unmanned test missions.
The giant lab is becoming more visible as more visible to the public. Two attempts by the Planetary Society to put a message aboard the station last week were thwarted by the same cold, anti-permitting ISS, launched from Russia.