Emergency alarms rang through the International Space Station (ISS) early this morning after Russian cosmonauts woke up to the smell of smoke and burning plastic, according to the Russian space agency Roscosmos.
The alarm reportedly went off in the Zvezda service module, part of the Russian Orbital Segment of the ISS, at 4:55 am Moscow time on Thursday, September 9 during automatic battery charging. Cosmonauts flicked on the air purification system and went back to sleep. The problem appears to have been resolved, for now, and life on board the ISS is carrying on as normal.
A scheduled spacewalk by the Russians to continue outfitting the Nauka Multipurpose Laboratory Module is still set to go ahead today, according to NASA. (You can watch it here.)
“All systems are operating normally, the composition of air on board the station corresponds to the standard indicators. The crew continues regular training for today's spacewalk,” confirmed Roscosmos.
However, this is not the first event that has highlight how the ISS is starting to show its age. The station has been continuously occupied for over 20 years, but the last few years have seen humankind's "home away from home" pick up increasingly more signs of wear and tear. Just last month, a senior Russian engineer raised concerns that cracks have appeared on the Zarya module of the ISS. There has also been the recurring mystery of drill holes appearing in certain modules of the space station.
Tensions between the US and Russia back home on planet Earth have also soured the situation on the space station. In June, Dmitry Rogozin, top dog at Roscosmos, suggested Russia could withdraw from the ISS as early as 2025 unless Washington lifted sanctions that were affecting the agency’s work.