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Audio glitch causes concern about the International Space Station

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The ISS around the time of the glitch (Credit: NASA)

Audio from a routine training exercise was accidentally played on a public live feed on Wednesday night, causing concern on social media about the possibility of an emergency on the International Space Station.

The glitch happened at 6:28 p.m. ET on Wednesday while ground teams were in the middle of a training exercise involving a crew member who experienced a medical emergency due to decompression sickness.

People listening to NASA’s public live feed were able to hear a short exchange from the exercise, which was then quickly shared on social media, causing concern for the crew’s wellbeing. In reality, the crew was asleep and there was no emergency.

“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,” NASA said in a statement. “The International Space Station crew members were in their sleep period at the time. All remain healthy and safe, and tomorrow’s spacewalk will start at 8 a.m. EDT as planned.”

The Expedition 71 crew spent much of Wednesday performing genetic sequencing and orbital plumbing. They also prepared for the spacewalk in which NASA astronauts Tracy C. Dyson and Matt Dominick will remove a faulty electronics box and collect samples for analysis to understand the ability of microorganisms to survive and reproduce on the exterior of the ISS.

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