A Russian spacewalk yesterday to continue the configuration of Europe’s robot arm for the Russian half of ISS was cut short after four hours when the power system in Oleg Artemyev’s spacesuit begin producing unexpected “voltage fluctuations.”
“I have a message, voltage low,” Artemyev radioed Russian ground controllers around 12 p.m. EDT (1600 GMT). An engineer at Russia’s mission control center near Moscow warned Artemyev he would lose communications if his suit ran out of power.
Russian flight director Vladimir Solovyov then jumped on the line to tell Artemyev to head back to the safety of the airlock. “Oleg, this is Solovyov,” he said. “Drop everything and start going back (to the airlock) right away. Oleg, go back and connect to station power.”
This problem occurred about two hours into the spacewalk. The second astronaut, Denis Matveev, continued working at the robot arm for another two hours before mission control ordered him to end the walk early.
According to Russian officials, Artemyev was never in any danger, though the urgency in which he was ordered to come inside suggests otherwise. According to another news report, a power loss could have also shut down the spacesuit’s “pumps and the fan.”
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