NASA briefly loses contact with ISS for the first time in 24 years – tries to contact astronauts via Russian system

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According to NASA, yesterday, due to a power failure at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, communication with the International Space Station (ISS) was interrupted for 20 minutes. The communication system relayed the message and did not return to normal until 90 minutes later. The ISS is an artificial satellite located in low earth orbit. Since its launch in 1998, it has been jointly operated and used by many nations and institutions. Currently, there are seven astronauts on board the space station, from the United States, Russia, Japan and the European Space Agency. They conduct various scientific experiments and exploration activities on the space station.  NASA reports that this is the first time in 24 years that it is losing contact with the ISS. 

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However, the agency noted that the outage did not pose any danger to the space station or astronauts. ISS program manager Joel Montalbano, added that NASA will probe the failure and learn from it. He said 

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“It’s completely a ground problem, and neither the astronauts nor the space station has any problems”.

Contacting Astronauts via Russian System

Millions of people may have seen the space station fly overhead during the blackout. However, the only people able to link with it were those who planned to cut ties to the space station next year — Russia. According to The Guardian, NASA tried a couple of ways to get in contact. The report says that in addition to NASA’s backup system, it also tried to contact the astronauts on board the ISS with a Russian system. The Russian system serves as a backup link channel between NASA and the ISS. By using the Russian system, NASA was able to contact the astronauts and ensure their safety and well-being

This communication issue is reminiscent of the scene in the Apollo moon landing mission, when astronaut Michael Collins lost contact with the earth on the back of the moon, while Armstrong and Aldrin were on the moon going on a historic walk. However, the astronauts on the space station did not face that loneliness. This is because they only lost contact for 20 minutes and they still had each other. Yet the event also serves as a reminder that in low Earth orbit, even just a few hundred Km above the surface, it is possible to lose contact with humans.

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