It was a day of headaches and broken records for two Russian spacewalkers Friday as the cosmonauts spent more than 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,” said one of the cosmonauts as the two hauled the 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 reversed 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 the vacuum of space, a Russian record.
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The previous Russian record was set this year at seven hours and 29 minutes. However, the longest international-spacewalk record is eight 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 Zvezda 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, B.C.
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,” the company’s website says.
The cameras will be examined inside the space station to see if the problem can be resolved.
It’s been a 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 done by NASA astronauts Rick Mastracchio and Michael Hopkins. The Russian spacewalk was unrelated to the cooling-pump problem.