Soyuz undocking
The Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft undocked from the space station’s Nauka module late Oct. 17, landing in Kazakhstan a little more than three hours later. Credit: NASA TV

WASHINGTON — A Soyuz spacecraft carrying a cosmonaut and two spaceflight participants landed in Kazakhstan Oct. 17, nearly two days after that spacecraft caused the station to briefly lose attitude control.

The Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft undocked from the station’sNauka module at 9:14 p.m. Eastern Oct. 16. It reentered and landed southeast of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, at 12:35 a.m. Eastern Oct. 17.

On board the Soyuz was Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy, returning from 191 days in space. Also on board were spaceflight participants Yulia Peresild and Klim Shipenko, who flew to the station on the Soyuz MS-19 spacecraft that launched Oct. 5.

Peresild and Shipenko were on the station to shoot scenes for a Russian movie called Vyzov or Challenge, directed by Shipenko and starring Peresild. Peresild plays a doctor who flies to the station to perform surgery on a cosmonaut, a role played by Novitskiy. Roscosmos provided few updates about their work during their 12 days on the station beyond that they were carrying out filmmaking activities.

The third person on Soyuz MS-19, veteran Roscosmos cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, remained on the station with fellow cosmonaut Pyotr Dubrov and NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei. Dubrov and Vande Hei flew to the station on Soyuz MS-18 with Novitskiy and will remain on the station until March 2022, spending nearly one year in space.

The Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft caused the station to lose attitude control for the second time in less than three months Oct. 15. The spacecraft fired its thrusters at 5:02 a.m. Eastern as a test before departing the station. However, the thrusters continued to fire “unexpectedly” after the end of the testing window, NASA said in a statement, resulting in a loss of attitude control of the station at 5:13 a.m. Eastern. Flight controllers were able to restore attitude control within 30 minutes.

“The crew was never in any danger,” NASA spokesman Rob Navias said on NASA TV Oct. 16 during a broadcast of activities leading up to the undocking. “Flight controllers are continuing to evaluate data on that brief attitude excursion due to the thruster firing. NASA and Roscosmos are collaborating to understand the root cause.”

The station lost attitude control July 29 when thrusters on the Nauka module started firing several hours after that multipurpose laboratory module docked with the station. Roscosmos blamed the firing on a software issue, but neither it nor NASA has elaborated on the cause of that incident.

Jeff Foust writes about space policy, commercial space, and related topics for SpaceNews. He earned a Ph.D. in planetary sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a bachelor’s degree with honors in geophysics and planetary science...