Following two nights of demonstrations across the U.S., unrest has now spread to the International Space Station, where crew members have launched into furious protests against Commander Barry Wilmore. They are demanding that Wilmore take action against a Missouri grand jury’s decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown.
According to reports, four crew members have taken over 10 of the 12 pressurized modules, carrying signs that read “We Want Justice In Ferguson,” and chanting, “Commander Wilmore, we will be silent no more.” The only crew member who is not participating is Italian flight engineer Samantha Cristoforetti, but it is believed she is simply unable to follow the flurry of round-the-clock updates coming from CNN.
Several reports say that at least one crew member started several fires before realizing this would consume the station’s valuable oxygen. Others have apparently tried to overturn furniture and other items, but this has proved useless in the near-weightless environment.
On Wednesday, Cmdr. Wilmore sent an urgent message to officials at NASA, Russian space agency Roscosmos, and the European Space Agency asking for backup to quell the protest, saying he was worried crew members might take over communications or even try to disable the electrical systems. However, no rescue attempt appears to be forthcoming.
NASA flight director Joyce Jeffries said the agency is refusing to send up a police unit, out of fear it would only cause the protestors to become more violent. Russian president Vladimir Putin initially said that he was willing to send up a commando unit to pump the station full of sleeping gas, but that idea has since been scrapped.