Space Station astronauts temporarily lose all contact with NASA

Dylan Stableford

NASA's Mission Control lost contact with the International Space Station on Tuesday, temporarily leaving the $100 billion orbiting laboratory and its six astronauts without a means to communicate with Earth.

At 9:45 a.m., flight controllers in Houston were updating the software onboard the station’s flight computers when one of the station’s data relay systems malfunctioned, NASA said in a statement.

"The primary computer that controls critical station functions defaulted to a backup computer, but was not allowing the station to communicate with NASA’s Tracking and Data Relay Satellites," NASA explained.

An hour later, NASA was able to communicate with the crew as the space station flew over Russian ground stations. Commander Kevin Ford reported that the station’s status was fine and that the crew was doing well.

"The station is still flying straight, and everybody is in good shape," Ford said.

According to NASA's Johnson Space Center, communications were restored at 12:34 p.m. ET.

The International Space Station—built in 1998 by space agencies representing the U.S., Russia, Europe, Canada and Japan—is about the size of a football field and has the living space equivalent of a five-bedroom home.

It's been a rough go in the galaxy of late. Last week, a 150-foot asteroid buzzed by Earth, coming within 17,150 miles in the closest known flyby of a rock of its size, the Associated Press said.

The 17,400-mph brushback pitch came just hours after a meteor exploded above Russia, injuring more than 1,000 people, blowing out windows and shaking eyewitnesses with a blast equivalent of a 300-kiloton explosion.