Astronauts inside a Russian-built spacecraft on the International Space Station had to be rescued from the wrong orbit on Wednesday afternoon, when they found themselves in the wrong window for spacewalks.
With the Russian Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft safely in orbit, mission controllers had hoped that they could move the Russian-American crew to the proper spacewalk chamber, the Russian segment of the space station. But the astronauts’ presence inside the wrong module prevented crews outside from operating a high-tech robot outside to replace a fuel tank or switch spacesuits.
Instead, NASA engineers were forced to ship the crew members to the correct module to connect themselves to the treadmill named “the Big Red One,” only to arrive at the wrong time. According to NASA, everything was fine during the spacewalk, with no evidence of damage. On Thursday morning, all five astronauts, including Russia’s Oleg Kotov and Drew Feustel, floated back to their base inside the Russian-built Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft, again in the wrong location.
Crew members spent several hours in the Soyuz TMA-19M, over the course of their tasks to install the set of vents the station requires to assist in maintaining its space ecosystem. This suit-change fiasco lasted longer than expected.
“Astronauts spacewalked to the correct space station module. We appreciate their commitment to safety,” Glenn Knudson, a NASA spokesperson, told The Daily Beast. “We are confident the Soyuz and [space station] are in perfect health.”
The humans were greeted back on the ground by astronauts and cosmonauts on the Soyuz TMA-19M. The missing astronauts were then returned to the station by Russian-provided Canadarm2, the “international arm,” as it is also known. This allows the astronauts to lower the wrong portion of the space station for spacewalks, and ensures that the full extended lift is achieved in case of malfunctions or emergencies.