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Spacewalking astronauts release mini-satellite

Last Updated: Thursday, August 4, 2011 - 08:38

Cape Canaveral: Spacewalking astronauts released a ham radio satellite outside the International Space Station despite a missing antenna that will hamper operations.

Russian Sergei Volkov let go of the boxy 26-kilogram satellite with his gloved hands, a few hours after Mission Control had put the operation on hold. But he and his
spacewalking partner, Alexander Samokutyaev, ran out of time before they could accomplish the major task: moving a Russian cargo crane from one part of the space station to another.

Soon after the 6½-hour spacewalk began, the astronauts and flight controllers realized one of two antennas had somehow broken off the satellite. Experts on the ground have
no idea how it may have broken or when, said NASA spacewalk commentator Josh Byerly.

After debating for three hours what to do, Mission Control instructed Volkov to release the satellite.

The transmitting capability will not be affected by the loss of one antenna, but the receiving of signals from the ground will be degraded, Byerly said. The satellite is
designed to operate for a couple of months, and will re-enter the atmosphere and burn up in about nine months.

The mini-satellite is a prototype for a series of educational satellites under development by Radio Amateur Satellite Corp., NASA and a Russian aerospace company.

Bureau Report

First Published: Thursday, August 4, 2011 - 08:38

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