NASA Scares Internet After Airing Eerie Audio On International Space Station Livestream

By: Alex Trent | Published: Jun 13, 2024

On a regular live stream of the International Space Station (ISS) broadcast on the internet, NASA inadvertently played the audio of an emergency medical drill that watchers could hear the frightening details of.

In the immediate wake of eerie statements made on the video, users on the Internet were frantic to find out what it meant, forcing the ISS to come out with a statement explaining the strange audio.

Livestream Scare

An audio training exercise began playing around 6:30 pm EDT Wednesday on the livestream without warning which featured a speaker describing steps to “check his pulse one more time” and to place an astronaut into an environment of oxygen to get “best effort treatment.”

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A look at Earth from the International Space Station

Source: NASA/Unsplash

 “Unfortunately, the prognosis for Commander is relatively tenuous,” the unidentified female voice said. The video shown on the screen was normal while the voice was talking.

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Critical Care Facilities

At one point during the recording, the speaker was concerned about finding a hospital in Spain, causing some to speculate something bad happened and that an emergency descent might occur.

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An empty hospital corridor with a gurney on the right side, indicating preparedness for patient transport

Source: Miguel Ausejo/Unsplash

“One thing, I don’t know if you got this message before, but I did find a, through Dan, I did find a hospital in Spain that has critical care facilities and hyperbaric treatment facilities. Would you like me to give you that hospital and their phone number again?” the voice said.

Hypobaric Exposure

Part of the training drill mentioned that one crew member had suffered from hypobaric exposure, which could spell doom for that person.

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A view of a hurricane seen on Earth seen from space.

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“Well, I think at this point, because the hypobaric exposure is the big problem, and given his exam, I am concerned that there are some severe DCS hits, and so I would recommend trying to get him in the suit as soon as possible, and giving oxygen as best as able during that process, but the best thing would be to get him in the suit ASAP,” said the voice.

Panic Online

Avid watchers of the ICC feed immediately took to X and other social media platforms with theories about what was going on.

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Close-up of a woman's hands typing on the keyboard of a laptop. She is wearing a dark blazer with striped cuffs and a white top, and there's a watch on her left wrist

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“BREAKING! Emergency Situation on the ISS! “hypobaric exposure” to the commander multiple dps hits,” wrote X account The Launch Pad which posts breaking news of space-related events.

What Are DPS Hits?

The acronym DPS used in the recording stands for “Debris Protection System” which is a shield that protects the infrastructure of the International Space Station from being hit by debris.

A silver space station floats in space set against a black background. Various antennas and metal panels are seen

Source: Norbert Kowalczyk/Unsplash

In Earth’s orbit, there is junk and debris leftover from old rocket parts, satellites, and various other human technology. Since the debris is zooming around at high speeds, there is a potential for the debris to be dangerous to the ISS if it takes a direct hit.

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How Common Are DPS Hits?

Despite the scariness of a potential debris hit at the ISS, debris hits the shield protecting the space station all the time.

The planet Earth seen from space.

Source: Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit/Wikimedia

“Now, don’t worry too much about the ISS getting pummeled by space junk. The shields are designed to take the hits and protect the astronauts and the station from harm. It’s just part of the ISS’s daily routine, dealing with the occasional “DPS hit” while continuing its important work in orbit,” said space enthusiast Brandon Taheld.

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ISS Statement

In the wake of the recording going live and rampant speculation online, the official International Space Station account released a statement on X just after 8:05 pm EDT.

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“There is no emergency situation going on aboard the International Space Station. At approximately 5:28 p.m. CDT, audio was aired on the NASA livestream from a simulation audio channel on the ground indicating a crew member was experiencing effects related to decompression sickness (DCS),” said the International Space Station X post.

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Audio Simulation

In their post, the ISS claimed that this audio is related to a training scenario that was inadvertently routed to the live feed and that the ISS team is safe and sound.

A space station floats above an aerial view of Earth

Source: NASA/Unsplash

“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. The International Space Station crew members were in their sleep period at the time. All remain healthy and safe, and tomorrow’s spacewalk will start at 8 a.m. EDT as planned,” said the ISS.

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Response Online

Many commenters online expressed a feeling of relief and concern about the situation, with some feeling the update was very slow due to how fast the internet moves.

A person on their laptop and on their phone while in a cafe, a book and drink next to them.

Source: Austin Distel/Unsplash

“You guys should be faster on posting this kind of things. Thank god there is nothing happening,” wrote one X user.

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Turning Blue

As is standard for the Internet, some tried their hand at making a joke on the situation.

A humorous sign depicting a cow being abducted by aliens.

Source: Bruce Warrington/Unsplash

“You had a bunch of us about to turn blue,” said one user. “For a moment I thought the Aliens had arrived,” said another.

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Very Believable

Many expressed their belief in how real the entire broadcast sounded, drawing comparison to the “War of the Worlds” radio transmission by Orson Welles in 1938.

Source: Brian McMahon/Unsplash

“This was our “War of the Worlds” transmission. I’m glad it wasn’t real, those were some very believable comms,” said an X user in response to the ICC post.

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