Watch as ISS Astronauts Enjoy Themselves during Orbit-Elevating Thruster Ignition (Video)

Three astronauts on board the International Space Station (ISS) recently came up with a creative way to make the necessary task of raising the orbit of the ISS more enjoyable. The ISS needs to periodically increase its orbit, a process called “reboosting,” to prevent it from falling back into Earth’s atmosphere. On January 27, a Russian Progress spacecraft fired its engines for 13 minutes to reboost the ISS, lifting it a few miles higher above Earth.

The reboosting process gave the astronauts, who had a lighter work schedule due to it being a Saturday, the idea to turn it into a sort of amusement ride. They set up a video camera and positioned themselves in such a way that when the engines fired, they would be gently propelled backwards through the space station. This was done by crunching their bodies into little balls and waiting for the moment when the engines started.

The three astronauts involved were Jasmin Moghbeli from NASA, Andreas Mogensen from the European Space Agency, and Loral O’Hara, also from NASA. They positioned themselves in the Harmony node of the ISS, with Moghbeli providing a running commentary of the event. When the engines fired, the astronauts were slowly propelled backwards, creating a scene reminiscent of a slow-motion sports event.

The Progress spacecraft isn’t the only vehicle capable of performing the reboosting process. A commercial vehicle from Northrop Grumman, called Cygnus, has also been tested for ISS adjustments. Having multiple types of vehicles available for this process is preferred by NASA and Russia, as it provides a backup in case one vehicle encounters issues.

This came in handy in December 2022 when a Soyuz spacecraft, carrying three astronauts, sprung a coolant leak. While Russia was able to send a replacement Soyuz within a few months, during the interim, NASA astronaut Frank Rubio was temporarily reassigned to a SpaceX Crew Dragon in case an ISS evacuation was required. Russian cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitry Petelin were authorized to remain in the Soyuz as it was deemed safe for a smaller crew.

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