A pair of Russian cosmonauts conducted a spacewalk Thursday after a smoke alarm went off in their part of the International Space Station (ISS).
Cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov ventured outside the ISS at 10:51am ET for seven hours to prepare the new Nauka Multipurpose Laboratory Module for operations.
The duo connected ethernet cables and installed handrails on Nauka, which docked with the orbiting laboratory on July 29.
The alarm went off in the Zvezda module, which was added to the ISS in 2000. It sounded at 4:55am Moscow Time (9:55pmET on Wednesday).
‘A smoke detector was triggered in the Zvezda service module of the Russian segment of the International Space Station during automatic battery charging, and an alarm went off,’ Roscosmos said in a statement.
The incident, which NASA declared a ‘space emergency,’ is the latest in a string of problems to spur safety concerns over conditions on the Russian segment.
A pair of Russian cosmonauts conducted a spacewalk Thursday after a smoke alarm went off in their part of the International Space Station (ISS)
French astronaut Thomas Pesquet said ‘the smell of burning plastic or electronic equipment’ wafted to the US segment of the station, Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reported, citing a NASA broadcast.
The Russian crew turned on a filter and after the air was cleaned up the astronauts went back to sleep, Roscosmos said.
The space agency said that a planned spacewalk would go ahead as scheduled.
‘All systems are operating normally,’ Roscosmos said following the smoke alarm.
Cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov ventured outside the ISS at 10:51am ET for more than seven hours to prepare the new Nauka Multipurpose Laboratory Module for operations
A smoke alarm sounded Thursday in Russia’s Zvezda segment of the International Space Station (ISS) and astronauts smelled ‘burning’ on board, Russia’s space agency and NASA said. Pictured: A view of the ISS seen in 2018 (file photo)
Novitsky and Dubrov carried out the seven-hour long mission to integrate Nauka (pictured) with the ISS by connecting power and ethernet cables, among other tasks. Nauka experienced its own issues when it first docked with the ISS – the 22-ton module’s jet thrusters misfired hours after docking with the space station
Novitsky and Dubrov carried out the seven-hour long mission to integrate Nauka with the ISS by connecting power and ethernet cables, among other tasks.
Nauka experienced its own issues when it first docked with the ISS – the 22-ton module’s jet thrusters misfired hours after docking with the space station.
NASA said the incident caused the ISS to move out of attitude – its orientation in relation to its direction of travel – by 45 degrees, or one-eighth of a complete circle.
However, the flight director who was in charge at the time has since revealed this was ‘a little incorrectly reported’ and the actual figure was closer to 540 degrees.
This means the ISS performed 1.5 backflips when it was sent spinning and required a 180-degree forward flip to regain its original position.
The Nauka mishap is the recent error, as the Russian segment of the ISS has experienced several problems recently and a space official warned last month that out of date software could lead to ‘irreparable failures’.
Russia has also threatened to leave the ISS project and to build its own space station unless the United States doesn’t lift its sanctions imposed on the country.
Pictured: Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Aki Hoshide (L) and Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko, both Expedition 33 flight engineers, work in the Zvezda Service Module of the International Space Station September 25, 2012 (file photo)
The Zvezda service module, part of the Russian segment, has experienced several air leaks, including earlier this year and in 2019.
Citing concerns stemming from ageing hardware, Russia has previously indicated that it plans to leave the ISS after 2025 and launch its own orbital station.
In July, the entire ISS tilted out of orbit after the thrusters of the Nauka module reignited several hours after docking.
And in August, Russian cosmonauts said they discovered new cracks in a section of the ISS that they fear could worsen over time.
The superficial ‘fissures’ were found in the Zarya module, the first part of the ISS to be launched in 1998 by Russia.
The country’s space officials have warned that the latest incident aboard the station, following the discovery of other cracks last year, could become more widespread over the next few years.
NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei, Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Novitsky and Pyotr Dubrov (L-R) of the ISS Expedition 65 prime crew. Novitsky and Dubrov are currently on board the ISS
‘Superficial fissures have been found in some places on the Zarya module,’ Vladimir Solovyov, chief engineer of rocket and space corporation Energia, told RIA news agency at the time.
‘This is bad and suggests that the fissures will begin to spread over time.’
He did not say if the cracks had caused any air to leak.
Last year, ISS crew members hunted for an air leak for several weeks, tracing it to the main work area inside the Zvezda Russian module.
NASA stressed that the leak posed no immediate danger to the crew and only caused a slight deviation to the ongoing work schedule.
August 2018 saw astronauts rush to fix a hole (pictured) which had appeared in the outer wall of the Soyuz capsule on the orbiting laboratory. Its origins were, and still are, a mystery despite rife speculation
THE $100 BILLION ISS SITS 250 MILES ABOVE THE EARTH
The International Space Station (ISS) is a $100 billion (£80 billion) science and engineering laboratory that orbits 250 miles (400 km) above Earth.
It has been permanently staffed by rotating crews of astronauts and cosmonauts since November 2000.
Research conducted aboard the ISS often requires one or more of the unusual conditions present in low Earth orbit, such as low-gravity or oxygen.
ISS studies have investigated human research, space medicine, life sciences, physical sciences, astronomy and meteorology.
The US space agency, Nasa, spends about $3 billion (£2.4 billion) a year on the space station program, a level of funding that is endorsed by the Trump administration and Congress.
A U.S. House of Representatives committee that oversees Nasa has begun looking at whether to extend the program beyond 2024.
Alternatively the money could be used to speed up planned human space initiatives to the moon and Mars.
Solovyov has said previously that much of the International Space Station’s equipment is starting to age and has warned there could be an ‘avalanche’ of broken equipment after 2025.
This is also the year that Russia plans to leave the ISS project, possibly to launch its own orbital station.
In April, Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov told the Russia 1 TV channel that Moscow intended to warn ISS partners about the withdrawal.
He noted that the station’s service life has long expired, and its condition ‘leaves much to be desired’.
It is not known whether Russia will decided to completely abandon all work on the ISS.
It comes after NASA hit back at Russian claims earlier this month that a US astronaut drilled a hole in the ISS in 2018 to force an early return to Earth that she ‘suffered a psychological crisis’.
According to a report in TASS, the Russian state news agency, Roscosmos insiders claimed there were multiple holes drilled by someone unfamiliar with the module design and without proper support to ensure accurate drilling in low gravity.
They claim NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor made the hole after a blood clot developed in her jugular vein that she had to treat herself, leading to an ‘acute psychological crisis’.
NASA would not comment on the matters but disputed the claim, describing the astronaut as extremely well respected.
August 2018 saw astronauts rush to fix a hole which had appeared in the outer wall of the Soyuz capsule on the orbiting laboratory.
Its origins were, and still are, a mystery, despite rife speculation and accusations from all sides.
It is thought the latest report may be Roscosmos deflecting accusations from NASA over the arrival of the Russian Science module sending the ISS in a spin in July.