Lost in Space, NASA's Unprecedented 24-Year Connection Break with ISS

NASA
(source:Xinhua/NASA)
In a rare turn of events, NASA revealed that communication with the International Space Station (ISS) was interrupted for a staggering 20 minutes. The cause? A power outage at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

The communication system relayed this unsettling message, and it took a nerve-racking 90 minutes for it to return to normal. The ISS, a remarkable feat of human engineering, orbits Earth in low orbit, serving as a collaborative space station used by multiple countries and institutions since its launch in 1998.

At present, seven astronauts from the United States, Russia, Japan, and the European Space Agency conduct various scientific experiments and exploratory activities on the space station. This unexpected communication disruption marked the first time in 24 years that NASA lost contact with the ISS.

Thankfully, NASA swiftly reported that the outage posed no danger to the space station or its astronauts. Joel Montalbano, the ISS program manager, assured that neither the astronauts nor the station faced any problems during the incident. He mentioned that NASA would conduct a thorough investigation into the matter, seeking the root cause of the issue.

NASA Contacts Russia

During the brief communication blackout, the only party able to establish a connection with the ISS was Russia, the nation planning to sever ties with the space station next year.

According to The Guardian, NASA attempted several methods to contact Russia during the disruption but to no avail. The report revealed that aside from utilizing NASA's backup systems, they also tried reaching the astronauts onboard the ISS through the Russian systems.

The Russian system serves as a backup link between NASA and the ISS, ensuring a means of contact and the safety of the astronauts. Employing this contingency system, NASA can establish communication with the astronauts and verify their well-being.

A Reminder of Lunar Mission Challenges

This communication glitch brings to mind scenes from the Apollo moon landing missions when astronaut Michael Collins lost contact with Earth behind the Moon while Armstrong and Aldrin were on the Moon's surface during their historic journey.

However, the astronauts aboard the ISS did not experience such solitude as they only lost contact for a mere 20 minutes and had each other for company.

Nevertheless, this incident serves as a reminder that even in low Earth orbit, just a few hundred kilometers above the surface, there remains the possibility of losing contact with humanity.

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