WASHINGTON, February 19 (RIA Novosti) The US space agency NASA said its controllers in Houston lost contact with the International Space Station (ISS) Tuesday for about three hours, leaving the orbiting space laboratory dependent upon Russian ground stations to communicate every 90 minutes as the ISS passed over Russia.
“This morning at approximately 9:45 a.m. EST (1445 GMT), the International Space Station experienced a loss of communication with the ground. At that time, flight controllers in Houston were updating the software onboard the station’s flight computers when one of the station’s data relay systems malfunctioned,” NASA said.
“Mission Control Houston was able to communicate with the crew as the space station flew over Russian ground stations before 11:00 a.m. EST (1600 GMT) and instructed the crew to connect another computer to begin the process of restoring communications,” NASA said.
Communication with the ISS was restored at 12:34 p.m. EST (1734 GMT).
Six crewmembers were aboard the station during the malfunction, two American astronauts, three Russian cosmonauts and a Canadian astronaut.
"Hey, just FYI, the station's still fine and straight, everybody is in good shape of course," said expedition commander American astronaut Kevin Ford in audio released by NASA.
"And nothing unexpected other than lots of caution warning tones, and of course we have no system in sight. We'll get that back to you as soon as we can."
The International Space Station is a $100 billion laboratory approximately the size of a football field. The station has a living space equivalent to a five-bedroom home and was built by five different space agencies representing the United States, Russia, Europe, Canada and Japan, according to Space.com.