Astronauts wake up to smoke alarms and melted plastic smell on the space station

Fire and smoke alarms have gone off in the Russian segment of the International Space Station (ISS) overnight. The crew reported smelling “burned plastic, maybe burned electronics odor”.

According to Russia’s space agency, Roscosmos, the incident took place in the Russian-built Zvezda module while batteries were being recharged overnight.

After being awoken by the alarm, the RIA news agency reported that Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitsky had seen and smelled smoke and that French astronaut Thomas Persquet said the burnt smell had spread from the Russian segment of the ISS to the U.S. section.

Roscosmos reported that the crew activated air filters and continued to their “night rest” once the air quality was back to normal. Two Russian cosmonauts are still set to carry out work on the newly delivered Nauka science module on today’s spacewalk, the agency noted.

At this time it’s unclear if there was any damage caused.

The aging space station has suffered many mishaps as of recently, most notably a thruster misfire on the Nuaka module and sent the whole station off tilt. What engineers call a “loss of attitude control”.

The International Space Station weighs approximately 420 metric tons (925,000 pounds).

The BBC reported that Russian official Vladimir Solovyov told state media on September 1st that the ISS could suffer irreparable mechanical failures due to outdated equipment and hardware.

At least 80 percent of in-flight systems on the Russian segment had passed their expiry date, says Mr. Solovyoz, chief engineer at the space organization Energia. Energia is one of the leading developers of Russian ISS modules. New stations could be on the horizon with NASA’s plan to commercialize the next low Earth orbit research facility and Russia also looking at next stops after the space station is decommissioned.

What are your thoughts on the current state of the space station? Is it time for a revamp? Maybe a de-orbit?

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