NASA Regains Communications With Space Station After Morning Disruption
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
Flight controllers were updating software on board the space station’s flight computers when one of the orbiting laboratory’s data relay systems broke down, according to the BBC.
NASA said it was only able to communicate with the astronauts aboard the ISS every 90 minutes when it passed over a ground station in Russia.
“This is the same way they used to do it in the 1960s, with Gemini and Apollo,” NASA spokesman Josh Byerly told CNN‘s David Ariosto.
He said something went wrong around 9:45 a.m. this morning and the orbiting outpost lost all communications, including voice and command, from Houston. However, NASA said communications were restored less than three hours later.
Space station commander Kevin Ford was able to radio in to Moscow while the laboratory was orbiting over Russia. At 11:00 a.m., Houston asked the crew to connect another computer to begin the process of restoring communications. Ford was able to radio in later on that the station’s status was fine, and they were doing well. Shortly thereafter, communication was restored.
NASA typically communicates to the station through three communications satellites, transmitting voice, video and data. This isn’t the first time an interruption like this occurred, according to NASA.
Former astronaut Jerry Linenger told the Washington Post this is good training for an eventual mission to Mars, because during that long trip, communications are bound to be going down.
Byerly said the space station crew members have been simulating communication delays and downtimes in the past few weeks to see how activity could work on a future Mars mission.
Other than dealing with the loss of communications while orbiting the Earth, station crew members also performed other activities today. Ford spent his morning working with InSpace-3, which examines colloidal fluids classified as smart materials. Flight Engineer Tom Marshburn began his day with a blood draw to provide a snapshot of his health, and he also collected water samples from dispensers on both the Russian and U.S. sides of the complex.
Flight Engineer Chris Hadfield performed a routine scrubbing of the cooling loops of the U.S. spacesuits, which helps to ensure the suits are ready for use. Russian Flight Engineer Evgeny Tarelkin participated in the Relaksatisya Earth-observation experiment, studying chemical luminescent reactions in Earth’s atmosphere. Flight Engineer Oleg Novitskiy, the other Russian onboard, conducted medical examinations with Tarelkin in their lower legs to keep Russian flight officials up-to-date on their health.
Flight Engineer Roman Romanenko has spent the day unloading about 2.9 tons of cargo that arrived February 11, when the ISS Progress 50 cargo craft docked with the station less than six hours after its launch from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.