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posted by janrinok on Saturday September 11, @12:12AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the obey-the-no-smoking-signs dept.

BBC: International Space Station: Smoke triggers alert on board

Alarms were triggered on board the International Space Station after the crew reported smoke and the smell of burning plastic.

The incident centred on the Russian-built Zvezda module which provides living quarters, Russian media report.

The ageing space station has suffered a number of failures over the years and a Russian official recently warned of outdated hardware and failing systems.

These include air leaks, misfiring engines and cracks.

Russia's space agency, Roscosmos, said later that all systems were back to normal.

Reuters: Smoke detected in Russian module on space station - Roscosmos

Roscosmos said a smoke detector and an alarm were set off on the Zvezda service module, which provides living quarters for crew members on the ISS, when batteries were being recharged overnight.

RIA, citing audio communications broadcast by the U.S. space agency NASA, reported that Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitsky had seen and smelled smoke and that French astronaut Thomas Pesquet said the smell of burnt plastic or electronics had spread from the Russian segment to the U.S. section.

You know the saying about where there's smoke, there's ... um ... something you might want to look into.


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  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @12:28AM (3 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @12:28AM (#1176840)

    This is the totally competent Russian space program that idiots brag about, not realizing they are thinking of decades old Soviet innovations.

    • (Score: 2) by Opportunist on Saturday September 11, @11:04AM (1 child)

      by Opportunist (5545) on Saturday September 11, @11:04AM (#1176947)

      Yeah, this ain't the good old Soviet era technology anymore. All was great as long as money was no issue because prestige was all that counted (at least as long as foreign nations could see it, don't look at Soyus 1 or 11, those things happened at home where nobody could see... ok, technically they happened while coming down, but nobody could hear them scream).

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @04:00PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @04:00PM (#1177011)

        This is why we need astronaut dogs. They could smell the fire and track it to the source.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @07:18PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @07:18PM (#1177055)

      Zvezda is decades old Soviet technology. That's what's wrong with it.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @02:01AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @02:01AM (#1176857)

    why can't they leave us earthlings in peace without sabotaging our equipment?

  • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @02:25AM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @02:25AM (#1176863)

    Smoke, the smell of burning plastic... Cosmonaut got a crack habit?

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @10:20AM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @10:20AM (#1176938)

      Unsupervised bread toaster. Happens at the office all the time

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by istartedi on Saturday September 11, @06:04AM (7 children)

    by istartedi (123) on Saturday September 11, @06:04AM (#1176892) Journal

    I remember when Mir started having issues, and I thought it represented a kind of maturity in the human endeavor of spaceflight. There were only a few sci-fi films that had depicted this--the natural tendency for ships to break down and/or become *funky* due to the long-term presence of human beings breaking, repairing, and maintaining things.

    There's a natural tendency for things to get shabby and gritty, and the ability to hold it together and not get people killed on older ships and stations is something that needs to be considered. Star Trek hand-waves over it as the advanced replicators and other techniques make it possible for ships to be maintained in an "always new" kind of state.

    The first time I saw Dark Star on late night TV, I was like "Yeah, it's going to end up looking more like that". Alien too, but I don't think any real human habitation would be that dark by design. Perhaps Antarctic stations are our best model for what human habitats in space will look like after being maintained for several decades, if not the actual stations themselves.

    ISS is only 22 years. Mir had only about 15 years of service, so we're getting better.

    If we're ever going to do long duration spaceflight, we need to perfect the art of keeping junk flying. I hope they consider it, but they probably won't.

    • (Score: 4, Informative) by Runaway1956 on Saturday September 11, @08:02AM (2 children)

      by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Saturday September 11, @08:02AM (#1176912) Homepage Journal

      Flashback, you say. Pretty much every sailor who has ever gone to sea can relate. Ditto airmen. On land, you have some opportunity to run away from a fire. On the sea, under the sea, and in the air, running is out of the question. A space craft will be the same. You beat the fire, or it eats you alive. There is no compromise.

      --
      alles in Ordnung
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @10:22AM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @10:22AM (#1176940)

        Says Runaway1956:

        On the sea, under the sea, and in the air, running is out of the question.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @01:35PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @01:35PM (#1176987)

          You're as sharp as a bowling ball, ain't you boy? Where ya gonna run to in a submarine? Or a ship? Or an aircraft? Or, a frickin' SPACESHIP?

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @02:08PM (3 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @02:08PM (#1176993)

      It's all a fantasy until we figure out how to produce nutritious food within the limited energy budget available. Hydroponics don't even scale on earth with free sunlight and petro-power.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @02:34PM (2 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @02:34PM (#1176999)

        Is energy really the problem? I figure it's volume, which can be increased with larger stations and inflatable modules.

        If energy is the problem, just add more panels. Or fusion. Or a window.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @07:30PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @07:30PM (#1177060)

          It is a manpower problem. Hydroponics is traditionally labour intensive. There have been recent advancements in automation but they haven't been tested in space yet.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @09:45PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @09:45PM (#1177107)

          The problem with adding more panels or reactors is that you have to dump heat somewhere. Not as easy in vacuum as a planetary surface. There's nothing trivial about creating a self-contained ecosystem.

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Opportunist on Saturday September 11, @11:21AM (3 children)

    by Opportunist (5545) on Saturday September 11, @11:21AM (#1176949)

    The Zvezda [wikipedia.org] module has been the third module to get attached, but the other two are mostly supplementary (power/logistics) modules, while Zvezda is one where people spend a lot of time in. The two modules that went up earlier, Zarya [wikipedia.org], which is responsible for power, propulsion and mostly guidance and Unity [wikipedia.org], which is mostly a docking hub generally experience less stress. One would think that Unity, as a central "crossroads" in the station, would see a lot of traffic and thus a lot of stress, but you have to understand that people are attentive to their surroundings when they move about, while they tend to be focussed on their task, something that's not necessarily the case when they spend more time in a place.

    That's not to say I'm not quite impresed that the docking ports of Unity still seem to be in perfect condition after all those years and the quite high forces those docking berths are subjected to.

    But in the end, we're talking about a module here that has spent 2 decades in space. 20 years of hard vaccuum outside and a non-negligible amount of more solar radiation than anything down here would be subjected to. This is an incredibly long time for any material, and I'm impressed it lasted this long. I'm actually even more impressed that the other modules show no relevant wear and tear.

    This is especially impressive considering that half a century ago, when we started with the whole space exploration, missions that lasted for a week were originally a matter of luck and chance whether the crafts will have that kind of durability. The first Gemini duration missions had to be cut short for that reason, and the ones that ran the distance actually limped and hobbled across the finish line rather than stride. And just 2-3 years later the US had a craft that could last more than 2 weeks. A decade later we had spacecraft that could last half a year and longer.

    20 years is pretty impressive if you ask me. Though with the next space station, we might make plans how to replace modules that are past their prime, because replacing Zvezda is really not a trivial task, if it is possible at all.

    • (Score: 2, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @07:35PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @07:35PM (#1177064)

      Replacing it is technically possible. The problem is the political will to see it done in a reasonable time frame for a reasonable cost. In the current climate I don't see that happening.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 12, @02:13AM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 12, @02:13AM (#1177152)

      20 years of hard vaccuum outside

      How do you measure that on a rockwell hardness tester?

      https://www.alliancecalibration.com/rockwell-hardness-tester-calibration [alliancecalibration.com]

      I don't mean to pick on you personally, but "hard vacuum" always seemed an oxymoron.

      • (Score: 2) by ChrisMaple on Sunday September 12, @04:25AM

        by ChrisMaple (6964) on Sunday September 12, @04:25AM (#1177170)

        Words can have different meanings in different contexts. Problems can be hard (difficult), and mathematical problems can be hard in a very specific manner. A particular music variety is called hard rock. Hard water has dissolved minerals. A hard limit is a limit that cannot be exceeded, and there is no vacuum more vacuous than a hard vacuum.

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