On October 17, a Soyuz spaceship bearing a cosmonaut and two mission participants landed in Kazakhstan, nearly two days after the station’s attitude control was briefly lost. At 9:14 p.m. Eastern on October 16, the Soyuz MS-18 spaceship undocked from the station’s Nauka module. At 12:35 a.m. Eastern on October 17, it reentered the atmosphere and landed southeast of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan.
Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy, who had spent 191 days in space, was onboard the Soyuz. Klim Shipenko and Yulia Peresild, who flew to this station aboard the Soyuz MS-19 spacecraft which launched on October 5, were also on board. Shipenko and Peresild were on the station to film scenes for the Vyzov or the Challenge, a Russian film directed by Shipenko and featuring Peresild. Peresild portrays a doctor who travels to the station to operate on a cosmonaut, played by Novitskiy. Roscosmos released scant updates regarding their activity throughout their 12-day stay on the station, other than the fact that they were filming.
Veteran Roscosmos cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, the third member on Soyuz MS-19, remained on the station alongside NASA space explorer Mark Vande Hei and fellow cosmonaut Pyotr Dubrov. Vande Hei and Dubrov arrived on the station with Novitskiy on the Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft and will stay until March 2022, nearly a year in space.
On October 15, the station lost attitude control for the 2nd time in less than 3 months, thanks to the Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft. Before leaving the station, the spacecraft tested its engines at 5:02 a.m. Eastern. However, NASA stated in a statement that the thrusters persisted to fire “unexpectedly” after the testing session ended, resulting in the station’s loss of attitude control at 5:13 a.m. Eastern. Within thirty minutes, the flight controllers were able to regain attitude control.
“The crew was never in danger,” NASA spokesperson Rob Navias stated during a livestream of the events leading up to the undocking on NASA TV on October 16. “Data on that small attitude excursion due to thruster firing is still being evaluated by flight controllers.” NASA and Roscosmos are working together to figure out what’s causing the problem.”
When the thrusters on the Nauka module began firing several hours after the multifunctional laboratory module docked with this station on July 29, the station lost attitude control. The mishap was blamed on a software glitch by Roscosmos, and neither it nor NASA Agency has commented on the source of the incident.