Science

Epic spacewalk, epic FAIL: Cosmonauts point new antenna in the wrong direction

They had one job during the record eight-hour EVA ...

By Richard Chirgwin

47 SHARE

A record-breaking spacewalk conducted over the weekend ended with an antenna pointed in the wrong direction on the International Space Station (ISS).

The walk by Roscosmos' Alexander Misurkin (commander of Expedition 54) and flight engineer Anton Shkaplerov was scheduled to last 6.5 hours, but blew out to a Russian record of eight hours, 13 minutes.

Misurkin and Shkaplerov were detailed, among other tasks, to replace the electronics attached to a high-gain antenna that communicates with Russian mission controllers.

The replacement high-frequency wideband receiver will give the Russian segment of the ISS telemetry and data transmission performance similar to NASA's communications.

The antenna was folded while the cosmonauts worked on the electronics upgrade, and the trouble came when they were worked to redeploy the antenna.

NASA's blog post summarising the space walk says “the antenna system appears to be working normally”, but doesn't mention that when the cosmonauts unfolded the antenna, it ended up 180° in the wrong direction.

NASA TV voice Rob Navias said in spite of the antenna's orientation, it was “operating and in good shape”. Roscosmos is investigating whether another walk is needed to adjust the antenna.

As Space.com reports, the Russian communication system has a history of drama.

The antenna and associated electronics were originally launched in 2000, and were designed to communicate with the then-planned "Luch" network of satellites designed to beam video from the ISS to the world.

A decade passed before the new satellites were launched, and by that time, the 1990s-era electronics was obsolete and incompatible, leading to last week's spacewalk.

As you can see from about the 5:50-minute mark in the video below, rather than hauling the old electronics unit back into the ISS, the cosmonauts gave it a shove in the direction of Earth, in the expectation it will burn up in the planet's atmosphere. ®

Sign up to our NewsletterGet IT in your inbox daily

47 Comments

More from The Register

Former NSA top hacker names the filthy four of nation-state hacking

DEF CON Carefully omits to mention the Land of the Free

NASA's Kepler probe rouses from its slumber, up and running again

The old space telescope isn't giving up

NASA's Chandra probe suddenly becomes an EX-ray space telescope (for now, anyway)

Aging kit kicks into safe mode, 65,000+ miles away

NASA 'sextortionist' allegedly tricked women into revealing their password reset answers, stole their nude selfies

Then exploited pix to demand more X-rated snaps, Feds claim

NASA's Kepler telescope is sent back to sleep as scientists preserve fuel for the next data dump

Fingers crossed that the wee probe has enough energy to send something back

Martian weather has cleared at last: Now NASA's wondering, will Opportunity knock?

45 days of 'WAKE UP' calls to be shouted at teenage rover

Don't mean to alarm you – but NASA is about to pummel the planet with huge frikkin' space laser

Polar cap and sea height-measuring ICEsat-2 to fire 10k pulses at Earth each second

NASA lunar rover trundles to a meeting with Doctor Hacksaw and Mister Axe

Bits of doomed Resource Prospector may survive on commercial moon buggies

With sorry Soyuz stuffed, who's going to run NASA's space station taxi service now?

Comment SpaceX, Boeing running behind schedule, and don't get me started on SLS

NASA will send tiny helicopter to Mars

VID Why crawl when you can fly? Because flying in a thin atmosphere is hard, but Mars 2020 will try anyway