Longest Russian spacewalk replaces ISS antenna, though issues remain


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On the longest Russian spacewalk ever, two Russian astronauts today replaced an antenna on ISS, though it appears the installation had issues that might require an additional spacewalk.

NASA’s Mission Control reported that the antenna was still working. Nevertheless, Russian space officials were convening a special team to see whether further action would be necessary. The antenna is used for communications with Russia’s Mission Control outside Moscow.

The trouble arose toward the end of the more than 8 hour spacewalk — the longest ever by Russians and the fifth longest overall — after Commander Alexander Misurkin and Anton Shkaplerov successfully replaced an electronics box to upgrade the antenna. The pair watched in dismay as the antenna got hung up on the Russian side of the complex and could not be extended properly. The antenna — a long boom with a 4-foot dish at the end — had been folded up before the repair work.

Misurkin and Shkaplerov pushed, as flight controllers tried repeatedly, via remote commanding, to rotate the antenna into the right position. Finally, someone shouted in Russian, “It’s moving. It’s in place.” NASA Mission Control said from Houston that the antenna wound up in a position 180 degrees farther than anticipated.

In checking other reports about this spacewalk, it remains unclear whether the antenna will work in the present configuration. I should also note that while the AP report above calls this a “critical” piece of equipment, the antenna that was replaced has sat unused on ISS since for about 17 years because it was meant to work with Russian geosynchronous communications satellites that were never launched.

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One comment

  • Ted

    SO what is the intent of fixing this antenna? Will it work with US satellites? Are the Russians working on their own version now. Seems like a lot of wasted effort, time and money to fix something that has no defined purpose.

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