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The company for the high resolution cameras that the Russian astronauts were unable to install on ISS during their spacewalk last week has issued an update.
The installation of the cameras proceeded according to plan and without incident. During a spacewalk, Russian cosmonauts were able to transport the cameras to their mounting position and install them quickly and efficiently. However, soon after installation, the Mission Control Centre (MCC) outside of Moscow was unable to receive any data from either camera (contrary to what was reported during the live transmission of the spacewalk). Without this data, engineers in the MCC were not able to confirm that the cameras were receiving the power necessary to allow them to survive the temperature fluctuations of the space environment. As a consequence, senior technical personnel from UrtheCast and RSC Energia (UrtheCast’s Russian partner) jointly decided that the safest and most prudent course of action was to uninstall the cameras and bring them back inside the ISS to be reinstalled at a later date, once the data transmission problem has been solved.
UrtheCast’s Chief Technology Officer, Dr. George Tyc, was present at the MCC throughout the operation, along with the Company’s Chief Engineer for Space Systems, Mr. Greg Giffin. Said Dr. Tyc, “The fact the neither camera could communicate with the MCC strongly suggests that the problem lies inside the ISS and it is not a problem with the cameras or external cables. This kind of issue has been encountered before on the ISS and can be fixed in the near-term. Bringing the cameras back inside to be installed another day was simply the right engineering decision.”
No word on what caused the problem, but as this commercial project is being done in partnership with the Russians and the Russians are whom the company is working to solve the technical problem it was almost certainly on the Russian portion of ISS.