Russia’s Spektr-R Space Telescope Stops Responding To Earth’s Command

The scientific satellite Spektr-R (RadioAstron), Russia’s only space radio telescope, has shown signs of technical problems as the mission’s scientific work continues way beyond the intended duration.

Spektr-R Not Responding To Commands From The Ground

Roscosmos scientific adviser Alexander Bloshenko said Spektr-R has stopped responding to commands from Earth on Sunday and the next attempt to restore control will be on Monday afternoon.

“Today’s program of an effort to try to contact with the spacecraft has ended,” Bloshenko told state news agency Tass. “We are planning to repeat today’s program of work.”

The details of the problems were not clear, but while the telescope has stopped responding to commands this time, officials are optimistic there is still hope. Astro Space Centre chief Nikolai Kardashev also said the telescope continues to transmit scientific data.

Spektr-R started to show signs of trouble on Jan. 10 when Russia’s space agency Roscosmos said problems in the communication system of the telescope disabled its ability to hone in on specific targets.

Specialists attempted to restore communications to the system, but repeated attempts to re-establish connection failed.

Space Telescope In An Extended Mission

The space telescope was launched to study astronomical objects in conjunction with ground-based observatories.

Spektr-R has continued with its scientific works well beyond its expected lifespan. The telescope was launched in 2011 and the warranty period of its active operation has elapsed in 2014.

In 2016, Roscosmos announced the extension of the mission, saying the space observatory will stay active until late 2018.

“The Spektr-R (RadioAstron) spacecraft launched on July 11, 2011, will be used until the end of 2018 on the decision of a state commission,” Roscosmos said, according to Russia Beyond.

Bloshenko said that the telescope’s active operations have already lasted 2.5 times longer than expected.

Spektr-RG, the new Russian-German satellite, is set for launch this year.

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