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Smoke and fire alarms in Russian ISS module Zvezda

In the middle of the night prior to a successful spacewalk by two Russian astronauts to begin the outfitting of the new Nauka module on ISS, fire alarms sounded in the Zvezda module, and both astronauts smelled smoke.

The incident, which the Russian space agency Roscosmos said happened at 1:55 a.m. GMT (9:55 p.m. EDT Wednesday) ahead of a scheduled spacewalk, is the latest in a string of problems to spur safety concerns over conditions on the Russian segment. “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.

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.

It appears that because all the systems on the Russia portion of ISS continued to function normally, the Russians did no investigation. Or if they did, they have not revealed what they found. Nor has NASA provided any information.

In their history the Russians have experienced a number of fires on their various space stations. Some burned out without consequence (as it appears this recent one did). Others required aggressive action to bring them under control, as occurred on Mir several times. This history has apparently made the Russians somewhat nonchalant about such things.

That the issue was in Zvezda, however, which has a serious structural stress fracture problem in its hull, should be cause for a greater concern. Is this burn event related to the stress fractures? If I was an astronaut on board ISS I would surely want to know.


Conscious Choice cover

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  • Kyle

    NASA, I know you wont do anything proactive, but it would probably be a good idea to hire some companies to build you a new Space Station Core.

  • Jeff Wright

    I actually like Russian fatalism..checklist manifesto thinking has its own problems. In Russia, if a workman cuts off a finger-he gets chided for bleeding on the tech. No OSHA crap.

  • Gealon

    Well if I were stuck up on that death trap, I’d close off the hatch to the Zaria module any time I didn’t have to be in the Russian end, because when Zvezda goes, it’s not going to be pretty. Cracks, fires and drill holes, that is no way to run a space program.

  • Edward

    The U.S. airline industry didn’t reduce accidents by ignoring problems. The Russian space program is becoming a series of accidents looking for a place to happen. Oh, wait, no, we know where they will happen; what we don’t know is to whom they will happen, which crews.

  • pzatchok

    Well this is one good way to make a civilian passenger get all excited about his stay in the ISS.
    Nothing like a near death experience to raise the adrenaline.

  • wayne

    Death of a Cosmonaut – Soyuz 1
    last transmission of Vladimir Komarov (1927-1967)

  • wayne

    Gravity (2013)
    –>”Returning To Earth”

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