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Russian space radio telescope failed to receive signal from Earth — scientist

The scientist believes that the satellite can still be revived

MOSCOW, January 13. /TASS/. Russia’s space radio telescope Spektr-R did not respond to a command to switch on its transmitter, responsible for sending telemetry data to the Earth and receiving operational commands from the ground, a leading Russian scientist told TASS on Sunday.

"The problem is that the onboard control system failed to switch a transmitter upon receiving a signal from the ground. This transmitter is a part of a system that sends telemetry data to the ground and receives operational commands," said Yuri Kovalev, who heads the RadioAstron scientific program that involves Spektr-R.

He said it was the first time that such a problem emerged in the 7.5 years of the telescope’s mission.

According to the scientist, although Thursday’s communications session with the spacecraft was a failure, the US-based monitoring and data gathering station was able to detect the satellite and try to establish contact with it. However, the spacecraft’s 1.5-meter antenna could not be aimed at the station on the ground, and the majority of scientific data was lost.

"This means that our satellite is alive, that it has power on board, the scientific equipment continues to work and there is still a point in trying to establish contact with it," he said.

Russia’s state-run space corporation Roscosmos said on Saturday that "beginning with January 10, 2019, problems emerged in the operation of the service systems that currently make it impossible to tackle a targeted task." Specialists of the Main Operational Group of Spacecraft Control are trying to fix the problem.

The Spektr-R was launched in 2011 and the warranty period of its active operation expired back in 2014. Before this year, the radio telescope continued tackling targeted tasks, Roscosmos said.

According to Alexander Bloshenko, a scientific advisor to the head of Russia’s space corporation Roscosmos, the telescope’s active operations lasted 2.5 times longer than expected.