Cosmonauts Try And Fail To Install Cameras On ISS
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
A second spacewalk for the week was underway Friday morning as Russian cosmonauts attempted to install a new camera system outside the International Space Station (ISS). Commander Oleg Kotov and Flight Engineer Sergey Ryazanskiy opened up the hatch of the Pirs docking compartment this morning to step outside into the abyss and install photographic and scientific equipment on the hull of the complex.
The cosmonauts tried to attach a pair of high-fidelity cameras on a combination biaxial pointing platform but were thwarted by an electrical problem. The cameras are part of a Canadian commercial endeavor designed to take pictures of Earth.
Officials said the cosmonauts had to retrieve the cameras after installation because electrical connections failed. Rob Navias said during a NASA Television broadcast “those cameras did not provide any electrical signals on the ground.” Kotov and Ryazanskiy disconnected the cameras so they could be brought back inside the station for further analysis.
The space walkers were unable to conduct several experiments that were originally scheduled for Friday due to the technical difficulties they faced when installing the cameras.
Kotov was making his fifth spacewalk and Ryazanskiy his second. This spacewalk was the 177th in the history of the space station and the eleventh of the year.
Earlier this week, Flight Engineers Rick Mastracchio and Mike Hopkins conducted a 7-and-a-half-hour spacewalk on Christmas Eve to retrieve a spare pump module from an external stowage platform. This spacewalk was designed to finish the job they started last Saturday when the men removed a faulty pump module from the starboard truss.
Tuesday’s spacewalk was only the second-ever Christmas Eve spacewalk conducted in history. The first Christmas Eve spacewalk was 14 years ago on Space Shuttle Discovery, which involved upgrading the Hubble Space Telescope.
The cameras Kotov and Ryazanskiy attempted to install arrived at the space station via a progress 53P cargo ship back in November. They are part of UrtheCast’s project to provide a live video stream of Earth to anyone with an Internet connection. UrtheCast is planning to sell data to companies and government agencies that buy Earth-observing satellite imagery but give Internet users access to the streaming images for free.
The Russian space agency, Roscosmos, agreed to host the cameras on the space station in exchange for rights to use images and video taken over Russia. UrtheCast will have the rights to images and video of the rest of the world.
“From a User perspective, UrtheCast will blend features of Google Earth with the playback and video search functionality of YouTube,” the company wrote on their website. “The UrtheCast experience will be truly unique, generating significant awareness, publicity, and User interest worldwide.”