NASA regains space station contact after outage

NASA regains space station contact after outage

IN SPACE - MAY 23: In this handout image provided by the European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA, the International Space Station and the docked space shuttle Endeavour orbit Earth during Endeavour's final sortie on May 23, 2011 in Space. Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli captured the first-ever images of an orbiter docked to the International Space Station from the viewpoint of a departing vessel as he returned to Earth in a Soyuz capsule. (Photo by Paolo Nespoli - ESA/NASA via Getty Images)

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KMOV.com

Posted on February 19, 2013 at 3:17 PM

Updated Tuesday, Feb 19 at 3:23 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The International Space Station regained contact with NASA controllers in Houston after nearly three hours of accidental quiet, the space agency says.

   Officials say the six crew members and station are fine and had no problem during the brief outage.

   NASA spokesman Josh Byerly said something went wrong around 9:45 a.m. EST Tuesday during a computer software update on the station. The outpost abruptly lost all communication, voice and command from Houston.

   Communication was restored less than three hours later, Byerly said

   "We've got our command and control back," he said.

   Station commander Kevin Ford was able to briefly radio Moscow while the station was flying over Russia.

   Normally, NASA communicates with and sends commands to the station from Houston, via three communications satellites that transmit voice, video and data. Such interruptions have happened a few times in the past, the space agency said.

   If there is no crisis going on, losing communication with the ground "is not a terrible thing," said former astronaut Jerry Linenger, who was on the Russian space station Mir during a dangerous fire in 1997. "You feel pretty confident up there that you can handle it. You're flying the spacecraft."

   Not only should this boost the confidence of the station crew, it's good training for any eventual mission to Mars because there will be times when communications is down or difficult during the much farther voyage, Linenger said.

   In the past few weeks the space station had been purposely simulating communications delays and downtimes to see how activity could work for a future Mars mission, Byerly said. This was not part of those tests, but may prove useful, he said.
 

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