UrtheCast Says Camera Data Problems Likely Lie With ISS

Spacewalkers Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy remove the high resolution camera they installed earlier during Friday's spacewalk. (Credit: NASA)
Spacewalkers Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy remove the high resolution camera they installed earlier during Friday’s spacewalk. (Credit: NASA)

UrtheCast has posted an update concerning problems with two video cameras that cosmonauts installed on the exterior of the International Space Station last week:

The installation of the cameras proceeded according to plan and without incident….However, soon after installation, the Mission Control Centre (MCC) outside of Moscow was unable to receive any data from either camera (contrary to what was reported during the live transmission of the spacewalk). Without this data, engineers in the MCC were not able to confirm that the cameras were receiving the power necessary to allow them to survive the temperature fluctuations of the space environment. As a consequence, senior technical personnel from UrtheCast and RSC Energia (UrtheCast’s Russian partner) jointly decided that the safest and most prudent course of action was to uninstall the cameras and bring them back inside the ISS to be reinstalled at a later date, once the data transmission problem has been solved.

UrtheCast’s Chief Technology Officer, Dr. George Tyc, was present at the MCC throughout the operation, along with the Company’s Chief Engineer for Space Systems, Mr. Greg Giffin. Said Dr. Tyc, “The fact the neither camera could communicate with the MCC strongly suggests that the problem lies inside the ISS and it is not a problem with the cameras or external cables. This kind of issue has been encountered before on the ISS and can be fixed in the near-term. Bringing the cameras back inside to be installed another day was simply the right engineering decision.”

RSC Energia has formed a Commission to quickly analyze and fix the problem and it has already held its first meeting. This is standard procedure at RSC Energia, which has a long and very successful history with manned space systems — it has established a rigorous process to deal quickly and efficiently with anomalies of this type when they occur.

The cameras are designed to transmit continuous views of the Earth from the orbiting station.