Material Science

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

The researcher trusts that the satellite can even now be revived

MOSCOW, January 13, Russia’s space radio telescope Spektr-R did not react to an command to switch on its transmitter, in charge of sending telemetry information to the Earth and getting operational commands from the beginning, a leading Russian researcher 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 company 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 guarantee time of its active operation expired back in 2014. Before this year, the radio telescope continued tackling targeted tasks, Roscosmos said.

As per Alexander Bloshenko, a scientific advisor to the leader of Russia’s space organization Roscosmos, the telescope’s dynamic tasks kept lasted 2.5 times longer than expected.