disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only
On Thursday, the International Space Station decided to launch some satellites on its own. CubeSats are tiny satellites (about the size of a few bricks), weighing less than 1.33 kilograms, and they’re supposed to do a range of missions from communicating with sea vessels to monitoring earthquakes.
The station commander, Steve Swanson, was putting blood samples in a freezer when he noticed the CubeSat launcher’s doors were open, according to reports. “No crew members or ground controllers saw the deployment. They reviewed all the camera footage and there was no views of it there either,” according to NASA Mission Commentator Pat Ryan. Those working at the Johnson Space Center in Houston realized that the CubeSats had somehow been released without anyone initiating a launch.
According to Pat Ryan, the crew had been trying to repair the launcher recently, which explains why their may have been such an error. The space station received the 32 CubeSats in July to take images of Earth. So far, four of the 12 released were released on accident, and the fate of the mission remains unclear.