Credits By: www.iflscience.com
Communication with the International Space Station (ISS) was temporarily lost for twenty minutes. NASA had to rely on Russia for the next 70 minutes to pass on messages during the incident.
Yesterday, a power failure at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston caused an interruption in communication with the ISS. NASA had to utilize Russian communication systems to inform the astronauts about the situation. This highlights the importance of implementing additional redundancies if the ISS becomes less reliant on international cooperation, as previously announced.
During the famous moonwalk of Armstrong and Aldrin, Michael Collins experienced unparalleled isolation in human history when the Moon obstructed his communication channels with Earth. Subsequent Apollo missions, except for Apollo 13, faced similar disconnections for extended periods. However, the situation aboard the ISS was not as severe, as the full radio silence lasted only twenty minutes, and the seven astronauts on board had each other for support.
Nonetheless, this incident serves as a reminder that even in low Earth orbit, just a half-day drive away from the people below (if cars could travel straight up), it’s possible to lose touch with the rest of humanity. Although millions of people might have seen the ISS passing overhead during this time, only those intending to sever their connection to the station next year could send messages. However, the timing is now uncertain.
NASA assured that the communication interruption did not jeopardize the station or its crew. ISS Program Manager Joel Montalbano said it was purely a ground problem, and the crew and the vehicle were never in danger.
Backup systems restored direct communication between Houston and the ISS within 90 minutes.
Given the station’s launch in 1998 and the extreme weather events Houston has faced since then, it is surprising that a similar incident hadn’t occurred earlier. NASA, prioritizing astronaut safety, has constructed an entire backup control center outside Houston. However, it was not activated on this occasion.
Montalbano stated they would investigate what happened, learn from it, and move forward accordingly.
NASA intends to keep this event low-key, as evidenced by the lack of mention on the ISS’s social media accounts or the main @NASA account. Only the last paragraph of the daily update on the ISS blog briefly refers to the issue, expressing the expectation that it will be resolved by the end of the day, returning the system to normal configuration.