Russian Cosmonauts Fail to Install UrtheCast Cameras During the Third Spacewalk This Week

December 28, 2013

Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy outside International Space Station, working on two UrtheCast cameras.

Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy outside International Space Station, working on two UrtheCast cameras. Credit: Mastracchio/NASA

During an 8-hour, 7-minute spacewalk yesterday, two Russian cosmonauts failed to install two high resolution UrtheCast cameras, despite following instructions to the letter. The cause of technical problem is not yet known, so live broadcast of Earth from the International Space Station will have to wait a bit longer.

Yesterday on the ISS, Commander Oleg Kotov and Flight Engineer Sergey Ryazanskiy completed a spacewalk that lasted over 8 hours. Their task was to set up two cameras made by the Canadian company, UrtheCast, which were supposed to transmit videos of the Earth's surface. The company intends to offer live streaming to paying customers - governments and private agencies. Currently, the company is working with Russian aerospace company RSC Energia, but has no agreement with NASA.

Cosmonauts tried to repeat steps in order to make cameras work, unplugging and replugging cables, but the Russian flight controllers on the ground still haven't been able to receive the telemetry. The cause of the problem is not yet known, but it prevented two cosmonauts to complete other tasks planned – disposing the frame that once held three Micro-Particles Capturer and Space Environment Exposure Device (MPAC & SEED) units for a Japanese space exposure study and the installation of a payload boom.

"The exact cause of the problem is not known at this point," said Rob Navias, NASA's Mission Control commentator. "The Russian flight control team will spend some time, obviously, analyzing the data and trying to understand from the analysis of these photographs whether or not the problem lies in the electrical connectors themselves or in the cameras, which of course would be a more significant issue."

This was the third space walk around the ISS, other two performed by U.S. astronauts Rick Mastracchio and Mike Hopkins. The previous space walks had a task of replacing a defective ammonia coolant pump on station's starboard truss.

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