It was a day of headaches and broken records for two Russian spacewalkers Friday as the cosmonauts spent over eight hours installing two cameras on the exterior of the International Space Station, only to remove them when they failed to work.
“Back and forth back and forth,” quipped one of the cosmonauts as they hauled the two bulky cameras back into a space station airlock. “It was actually easier to take it out than put it in.”
Commander Oleg Kotov and Flight Engineer Sergey Ryazanskiy had installed the two cameras ahead of schedule, but had to reverse course when the cameras failed to transmit telemetry and other data to ground controllers.
In the process of installing and uninstalling the equipment, the cosmonauts spent 8 hours and 7 minutes in the vacuum of space -- a new Russian record.
The previous Russian record was set earlier this year at 7 hours and 29 minutes. However, the longest international spacewalk record is 8 hours, 56 minutes and was set by NASA astronauts Jim Voss and Susan Helms on March 11, 2001.
The primary goal of Friday’s mission was to attach two high-fidelity cameras to a platform on the Zvedza service module of the ISS, according to NASA. The high- and medium-resolution cameras were to be operated by the private company UrtheCast, of Vancouver, Canada.
The company, whose name is pronounced like “Earth Cast,” intends to live stream images of Earth 260 miles below. “Anyone with Internet access will be able to log onto the website and view the world as the astronauts see it,” states the company’s website.
The cameras will be examined inside the space station to see if the problem can be resolved.
“Thanks for all your hard work,” a ground controller told the cosmonauts as they finally entered the ISS and closed the hatch behind them, around 1 p.m. PST. “We’re really sorry it worked out this way.”
The spacewalk was streamed live on NASA TV and the conversation between Russian ground controllers and the cosmonauts was translated by an interpreter.
It’s been a very busy week for ISS crew members, who performed three separate spacewalks.
The first two spacewalks were aimed at repairing a faulty cooling pump on the space station’s exterior, and were executed by NASA astronauts Rick Mastracchio and Michael Hopkins. The Russian spacewalk was unrelated to the cooling pump problem.