NASA Broadcasts Distress Call from Space Station by Mistake

Written by Camilla Jessen

Jun.13 - 2024 10:08 AM CET

Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
A simulated emergency scenario aired on NASA's live feed sparked online rumors.

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On Wednesday, NASA accidentally broadcasted a simulation of astronauts dealing with decompression sickness on the International Space Station (ISS) on their live feed.

This quickly led to widespread speculation on social media about a potential emergency.

The Incident

At around 5:28 p.m. U.S. Central Time (2228 GMT), NASA's live YouTube channel transmitted audio suggesting that a crew member on the ISS was suffering from decompression sickness (DCS).

According to the audio, a female voice instructed crew members to "get the commander back in his suit," check his pulse, and provide oxygen, noting that his condition was "tenuous."

The broadcast caused an immediate stir online, with space enthusiasts sharing the audio on social media platform X (formerly Twitter), warning of a serious emergency aboard the ISS, as reported by Reuters.

NASA soon clarified the situation on its official ISS account on X, stating, "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."

They assured the public, "There is no emergency situation going on aboard the International Space Station."

The astronauts on the ISS were in their sleep period at the time of the broadcast, preparing for a scheduled spacewalk at 8 a.m. EDT on Thursday.

NASA's ISS YouTube channel, which aired the mistaken audio, now shows an error message saying the feed has been interrupted.

What is Decompression Sickness?

Decompression sickness, also known as "the bends," happens when nitrogen or other gas bubbles form in the bloodstream due to a rapid change in atmospheric pressure.

This condition can affect the central nervous system and can be fatal if not treated quickly.