International Space Station Alarms Triggered After "Burning Plastic Smell"

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by Tyler Durden
Thursday, Sep 09, 2021 - 10:20 PM

Less than one week after Russian cosmonauts discovered small cracks on the aging International Space Station (ISS), smoke alarms were triggered on the station in the early hours of Thursday, according to AP. Crew members reported dark smoke and the smell of burnt plastic coming from the Russian segment of the space station. 

Russia's space agency, Roscosmos, said the incident unfolded at 0155 ET in the Russian-built Zvezda module during an overnight recharge of the station's batteries. 

French astronaut Thomas Pesquet said, "the smell of burning plastic or electronic equipment" made its way through the station into the US segment, RIA Novosti reported, citing a NASA broadcast.

Pesquet and other crew members turned on air filters to scrub the station's air of smoke/smell. There was no word on how much smoke was emitted, but reports indicate astronauts went back to sleep after air quality levels returned to normal. 

It appears that whatever was burning didn't affect operations on the station. Hours later, a planned spacewalk was conducted by cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy who fished an "ethernet" data cord around the outside of the multipurpose laboratory module of the space station. 

The aging space station has suffered numerous failures, including air leaks, cracks, and misfiring engines. Russia said in April that it would leave the station in 2025, citing structural fatigue that could suggest it may not be capable of operating beyond 2030. 

Meanwhile, the Chinese have launched a new space station that is expected to outlast the ISS. 

The smoke incident comes a week after "superficial fissures have been found in some places on the Zarya module," according to Vladimir Solovyov, the chief engineer of Moscow-based company Energia, the top contractor for Russia's spaceflight program.