Commercial Cameras Beaming Back Data after Reinstallation on Space Station

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Russian cosmonauts on Jan. 27 successfully reinstalled a pair of commercial Earth-observing cameras on the international space station’s Zvezda module after technical glitches marred the initial installation in December, forcing their removal, Canada’s UrtheCast, the owner of the cameras, said in a Jan. 28 press release. 

Telemetry received from the reinstalled equipment was “within our expected results,” the Vancouver, British Columbia, company said. Full checkout of the cameras is expected to take a few months.

UrtheCast plans to make “near-live” still imagery captured from the space station’s orbit available free of charge on its website starting this spring. Paying customers will get direct feeds. 

RSC Energia, Russia’s main human spaceflight contractor, is UrtheCast’s senior partner on the camera project. 

It took two spacewalks to get the UrtheCast cameras mounted and working. Back in December, cosmonauts mounted the cameras on the station’s exterior, only to find that controllers on the ground could detect no signal from the equipment. That forced spacewalkers Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy to remove the cameras and wait a month while mission control Moscow addressed the problem, which UrtheCast said was due to “a cabling issue” inside the station.