MOSCOW, November 15 (Itar-Tass) — The cable, which ensured communication between the Mission Control Centre (MCC) outside Moscow and the International Space Station (ISS) was damaged because its owner Akado Telecom (KOMKOR-Region JSC) provider did not put the special marking on it, Rostelecom that was dismantling outdated equipment at the Mytishchi automatic telephone station told Itar-Tass.
“On November 14, a contractor of Rostelecom was performing scheduled dismantling of outdated communications equipment at the ATS in Mytischi,” the press-service of the operator said. “In accordance with the regulations, representatives of the communications operators were invited before the beginning of the work in order to mark the used cables.” Thus, all operators were notified in advance about the work. Rostelecom stressed that just the unmarked fibre optic cable was damaged during the dismantling operation.
“The repair brigade that arrived at the emergency site repaired the damage in a timely manner,” Rostelecom added.
Spokesman for the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roskosmos) Alexei Kuznetsov told reporters on Thursday that “the cable connected one of the ground control points and TsNIImash (Central Research Institute of Machine Building).” “The broken cable did not affect the control of Russian satellites and communication with the ISS.” The crew of the Soyuz TMA-05M spacecraft will return to Earth on schedule, he pointed out.
The undocking of the Soyuz TMA-05M spacecraft from the ISS is scheduled for November 19 at 02:23, Moscow time. The manned spacecraft at this time is to leave the docking unit of the MIM-1 Rassvet module of the station’s Russian segment. The landing of the crew comprising Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko (Commander, ISS Expeditions 32 and 33), NASA astronaut Sunita Williams (onboard engineer, ISS Expedition 32 flight engineer, Commander of ISS Expedition 33) and Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide (onboard engineer, flight engineer of ISS Expeditions 32 and 33) is expected on the same day at 05:54, Moscow time.
NASA astronaut Kevin Ford and Russian cosmonauts Oleg Novitsky and Yevgeny Tarelkin will remain on board the space station. Before the departure Sunita Williams will transfer the expedition command functions to Ford.
The next crew, which is preparing for a flight to the ISS on December 19 comprises NASA astronauts Chris Hadfield, Tom Marshburn and Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko.
Chief of the Cosmonaut Training Centre (CTC) Sergei Krikalev said on Thursday that the disruption of communication on the International Space Station is not a contingency. According to him, the crew was trained for various emergency situations, including the lack of communication with the Earth. “The crew is specially trained for this and this is a normal mode when the crew is working without communication,” he explained, commenting on the cable break in the Moscow region. In addition, Krikalev noted, there are many alternate communication channels. “The communication system is duplicated through the relay satellite, through ground stations, it is also possible to contact the Russian crew through the US communications facility, and vice versa,” the CTC chief said.
The temporary loss of communication between the Russian Mission Control and the ISS will not affect the space station, NASA said Wednesday in connection with the information on a cable fault in the Moscow Region. The telemetry, voice and image data transfer was carried out by employees of the Russian MCC through the US communications system. The American communication system is usually used in addition to the Russian ground stations, the US space agency said.
During the work of the International Space Station, there have been cases of loss of communication with the orbital complex. So, on April 25, 2001, as a result of a failure of all three main onboard computers the Houston Mission Control lost contact with the ISS and the station crew had to be contacted through Space Shuttle Endeavour that was docked to the ISS. The failure occurred during the mounting of the Canadian robotic arm. The next day the computer communication was restored.
On August 3, 2004, during a spacewalk of the crew of ISS Expedition 9 - Gennady Padalka and Michael Fincke communication with the astronauts was disrupted. In 20 minutes, the contact was restored, and the astronauts had to return to the space station ahead of time. The cause of the temporarily loss of contact with the spacewalking crew was overloading of one of the gyrodynes - devices ensuring the station’s orientation.
On September 26, 2012, the European cargo spacecraft ATV-3 Edoardo Amaldi could not undock from the station because of a failure in the transmission of the signal from the Russian ISS segment to the European Mission Control. On September 29, the ATV-3 spacecraft was successfully undocked.