NASA astronauts Sunita Williams, Butch Wilmore face trouble due to detection of ‘specebug’ at space station

NASA astronauts. NASA astronauts Suni Williams (pictured left) and Butch Wilmore (pictured right). Photo Courtesy: NASA website

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IBNS-CMEDIA: Sunita Williams, Indian-origin astronaut and her colleague Butch Wilmore successfully entered the International Space Station after docking their Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft on June 6 but they are now facing a superbug challenge.

Williams and her colleague will remain there for a week-long stay, testing Starliner and its subsystems as the next step in the spacecraft’s certification for rotational missions as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.

Triggering concerns for the health of astronauts, scientists discovered a superbug notorious for being resistant to drugs in samples isolated from the International Space Station.

They found 13 strains of the bacterium Enterobacter bugandensis which is known to be multidrug resistant, reported The Independent.

The findings suggest these bacterial strains mutated under the stress of the space environment and became genetically distinct from their Earth counterparts, the newspaper reported.

This means it possesses harmful traits that can lead to a “plethora of infections”, researchers told The Independent.

Scientists said that the closed human environment of the ISS offers a unique extreme environment with microgravity, radiation and elevated carbon dioxide levels that force such microbes to adapt in order to thrive.

The study reportedly showed researchers found that bacterium from the ISS sample developed a method to evade the action of many different types of antibiotics.