NASA power outage briefly disrupts contact with ISS: Report

NASA briefly lost contact with International Space Station (ISS) after a power outage at the space agency mission control centre in Houston.

Washington:  NASA briefly lost contact with the International Space Station (ISS) after a power outage at the space agency mission control centre in Houston, the media reported.

While temporary losses in communications have occurred before, due to systems upgrades on the ground or missed contact with satellites, this outage marked the first time that NASA had to rely on backup control hardware at Johnson Space Center’s Building 30, CNN reported.

According to ISS Programme Manager Joel Montalbano, the outage occurred on Tuesday morning and lasted about 90 minutes.

But NASA was able to communicate with the astronauts aboard ISS via Russian systems within 20 minutes after the outage began, he was quoted as saying.

The outage also caused no danger for the crew.

“It wasn’t an issue on board. It was purely a ground problem,” he said. He explained that the outage happened due to a pre-planned upgrade to the power systems that triggered some “reconfiguration”.

“We knew this (the upgrade work) was going on,” Montalbano said.

“In preparation for that we have the backup command and control system that we would use if we have to close the centre for a weather emergency.”

In about an hour and a half NASA could transition to using the backup system — designed for use during hurricane season or in the event of a weather outage, Montalbano said.

He noted that the outage, which impacted only the first floor of the mission control building, affected the key communications providing hardware, including voice contact and telemetry, or data about the space station’s pressure levels, power and position.

It did not affect flight controllers, or the rotating crew of NASA employees who constantly monitor the ISS from consoles in the main mission control room.

Montalbano said that NASA would work to “better understand what happened and then take some lessons learned”, the report said.

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