Cosmonauts Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy spent a frustrating eight hours outside the International Space Station during a record-setting Russian spacewalk on Friday, installing then retrieving a pair of commercial Earth observing cameras that failed to provide satisfactory telemetry.
The cameras, delivered aboard the Progress 53 resupply craft on Nov. 29, were developed for UrtheCast, of Vancouver, Canada which plans to offer near real time Earth views to subscribers through the Internet in partnership with Roscosmos, the Russian federal space agency.
Cable Guys: Spacewalkers Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy connected and disconnected power and data cables during a marathon Russian spacewalk. Photo Credit: NASA TV
After a five hour effort to install 1.1 meter resolution video and 5.5 meter resolution still imaging cameras on stationary and movable Zvezda service module platforms, the spacewalkers were instructed to retrieve the imagers and return them to the station's Russian segment airlock for further troubleshooting.
Following the initial installation, the cosmonauts attached power and transmission cables. When Russian flight controllers were unable to obtain satisfactory transmissions, Kotov and Ryazanskiy made several additional attempts to reconfigure connectors in a bid to resolve the transmission issues.
"Well guys, it happens," controllers in suburban Moscow, told the two men. "Thank you for all your hard work. Sorry it turned our this way."
“Never thought I’d have to take it off, again,” said one of the cosmonauts as the dismantling got underway.
Cosmonauts retrieve UrtheCast imager for troubleshooting. Photo Credit: NASA TV
Friday’s spacewalk stretched to 8 hours, 7 minutes, breaking a Russian spacewalk record of 7 hours, 29 minutes, established on Aug. 16 by Fyodor Yurchikhin and Alexander Misurkin as they configured the Russian segment for the arrival of the Multipurpose Laboratory Module.
Despite the setback, Kotov and Ryazanskiy removed and jettisoned Vsplesk, a Russian sensor designed to monitor terrestrial seismic activities that was installed during a 2008 spacewalk. They replaced Vsplesk with Seismoprognoz, a new earthquake monitoring experiment.
Friday's excursion, which drew to a close at 4:07 p.m., EST, was the third conducted by the six member ISS crew within the past week. U.S. astronauts Rick Mastracchio and Mike Hopkins carried out spacewalks last Tuesday and Saturday for the installation of a new pump module to restore the station's external thermal control system to normal operations following a Dec. 11 flow control valve failure.
UrtheCast, which counts the United Nations Institute for Training and Research among its clients, had planned to begin streaming Earth views in near real time in early 2014, following a calibration period. Another installation attempt has yet to be scheduled.