WASHINGTON — RIA Novosti, the state-owned Russian news agency, reported Nov. 14 that controllers at Moscow mission control had lost the ability to send commands to the Russian segment of the international space station as well as many of Russia’s civilian satellites. The problem? A “severed communications cable.”

It was not clear who or what severed the cable. It is clear, according to RIA Novosti, that Russian satellites are still transmitting data back to Earth, and that Russian space station crewmen still have communications capabilities.

SpaceNews asked NASA spokesman Trent Perrotto what the U.S. space agency was doing to help. He sent this response:

A communications outage at the Russian Mission Control Center in Moscow temporarily interrupted telemetry between Russian flight controllers and Russian segment systems on the International Space Station on Wednesday.

Telemetry, voice and data services are being employed by Russian flight controllers from the U.S. communications system with no impact to station operations. The U.S. communications system on the station is routinely used to augment Russian ground stations.

The outage is not expected to have any impact on Sunday’s scheduled landing of the Soyuz TMA-05M spacecraft bringing home cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko, Expedition 33 Commander Sunita Williams of NASA and Aki Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency after four months in orbit.

Dan Leone is the NASA reporter for SpaceNews, where he also covers other civilian-run U.S. government space programs and a growing number of entrepreneurial space companies. He joined SpaceNews in 2011.Dan earned a bachelor's degree in public communications...