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NASA accidentally broadcasts distressed astronaut simulation on ISS

The broadcast, which aired at 5:28 p.m. U.S. Central Time (2228 GMT), included audio of a female voice instructing crew members to assist a commander showing signs of decompression sickness.

Edited By: Nitin Kumar @Niitz1 Singapore Published on: June 13, 2024 13:06 IST
Image Source : AP/FILE PHOTO NASA shows astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Frances Thomas Pesquet during a space walk outside the International Space Station.

NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) accidentally broadcast a simulation involving astronauts being treated for decompression sickness on the International Space Station (ISS), leading to widespread speculation on social media about a possible emergency on Wednesday.

Incident details

Around 5:28 p.m. U.S. Central Time (2228 GMT), NASA's live YouTube channel broadcast audio suggesting that a crew member was suffering from decompression sickness (DCS). The broadcast included a female voice instructing crew members to "get commander back in his suit," check his pulse, and provide oxygen, with the prognosis described as "tenuous."

Social media reaction

The audio clip quickly spread on social media, with many space enthusiasts posting it on X (formerly Twitter) and warning of a serious emergency on the ISS. NASA, however, did not verify or republish the audio recordings.

NASA's clarification

NASA's official ISS X account soon clarified the situation, stating that the audio was mistakenly routed from a simulation exercise. "This audio was inadvertently misrouted from an ongoing simulation where crew members and ground teams train for various scenarios in space and is not related to a real emergency," the ISS account posted. "There is no emergency situation going on aboard the International Space Station."

Understanding decompression sickness

Decompression sickness, caused by nitrogen or other gas bubbles in the bloodstream due to a change in atmospheric pressure, can affect the central nervous system and is potentially fatal. It is commonly referred to as "the bends."

Routine operations

At the time of the accidental broadcast, ISS crew members were in their sleep period, preparing for a scheduled spacewalk at 8 a.m. EDT on Thursday, as noted by the ISS account.

Current status of NASA's live feed

Following the accidental broadcast, NASA's ISS YouTube channel displayed an error message indicating that the feed had been interrupted.

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