NASA had to rely on backup control systems for telemetry, commanding, and audio.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration briefly lost contact with the International Space Station due to a power outage at the U.S. space agency’s Mission Control Center in Houston on Tuesday morning. According to a CNN report, the space agency had to rely on backup systems for the first time after the outage, which lasted about 90 minutes and caused a voice communications blackout with the ISS.
The flight controllers were able to communicate with the crew via Russian communication systems and were informed about the issue within 20 minutes of its occurrence. The Guardian, quoting program manager for the space station Joel Montalbano, reported that neither the astronauts nor the station were ever in danger. “It wasn’t an issue on board. That was purely a ground problem,” he said.
Meanwhile, the power outage affected only the first floor of the mission control building and did not impact flight controllers, Montalbano said and as reported by CNN. However, the hardware that provides key communications like voice contact and telemetry or data about the space station’s pressure levels, power, and position, were reported to have been affected.
The power outage occurred while upgrade work was underway at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. Talking about the cause of the outage, Montalbano said that the power outage was triggered by “reconfiguration” as the mission control center was undergoing some preplanned upgrades to its power systems. As a result of the outage, NASA had to rely on backup control systems for telemetry, commanding, and audio.
“We knew this work was going on, and in preparation for that we have the backup command and control system that we would use if we have to close the centre for weather emergency, especially important during the hurricane season,” Montalbano said; adding that NASA will work to “better understand what happened and then take lessons learned and move forward.