MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) – The astronauts aboard the International Space Station temporarily lost contact with NASA on Tuesday.
Around 9:45 a.m. something went wrong during a computer software update on the station, according to NASA spokesman Josh Byerly.
The outpost abruptly lost all communication, voice and command from Houston.
About an hour later, while flying over Russia, station commander Kevin Ford was able to briefly radio Moscow that all was well and they were working on the problem.
Communication was restored less than three hours later, Byerly said
"We've got our command and control back," he said.
Normally, NASA communicates with and sends commands to the station from Houston, via three communications satellites that transmit voice, video and data. Such interruptions have happened a few times in the past, the space agency said.
If there is no crisis going on, losing communication with the ground "is not a terrible thing," said former astronaut Jerry Linenger, who was on the Russian space station Mir during a dangerous fire in 1997.
"You feel pretty confident up there that you can handle it. You're flying the spacecraft," said Linenger.
Not only should this boost the confidence of the station crew, it's good training for any eventual mission to Mars because there will be times when communications is down or difficult during the much farther voyage, Linenger added.
In the past few weeks the space station had been purposely simulating communications delays and downtimes to see how activity could work for a future Mars mission, Byerly said. This was not part of those tests, but may prove useful, he said.
(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The News Service of Florida and the Associated Press contributed to this report.)
for more features.