A US-built orientation engine has failed aboard the International Space Station, leaving it uncontrollable and drifting, Russian media reported Thursday.
An undisclosed source at the Russian Mission Control Center told the ITAR-TASS news agency one of the U.S. gyrodynes, which provide precise orientation for the station, stalled Wednesday because of an incorrect command from NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.
Russian controllers urgently switched on engines of the Russian segment of the ISS to return the station to its proper position, and orientation control was restored with the use of the U.S. gyrodynes within 5 1/2 hours, the source said, although more than 30 pounds of fuel were expended during the unplanned maneuver.
There was no threat to the lives of NASA astronaut Leroy Chiao and Russian cosmonaut Salizhan Sharipov, the source added.
As a regular adjustment, the station will be lifted in its orbit by 1.8 miles on Feb. 16, ITAR-TASS reported.
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