Cosmonauts go for a record walk

Camera glitch forces Russians to spend eight hours outside space station

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 29 December, 2013, 5:21am
UPDATED : Sunday, 29 December, 2013, 5:21am

It was a day of headaches and broken records for two Russian spacewalkers as the cosmonauts spent over eight hours installing two cameras on the exterior of the International Space Station (ISS), only to remove them when they failed to work.

"Back and forth, back and forth," quipped one 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 eight hours and seven minutes in space - a Russian record.

The longest international spacewalk record is eight hours, 56 minutes and was set by astronauts from US space agency Nasa, by 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 cameras were to be operated by the private company UrtheCast, of Vancouver, Canada.

The company, whose name is pronounced "earth cast", intends to stream live images of earth some 400 kilometres below. "Anyone with internet access will be able to log onto the website and view the world as the astronauts see it," its website says.

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. "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 has been a very busy week for ISS crew members, who performed three 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.