Russia loses contact with satellites, space station
MOSCOW (AFP) - Russia on Wednesday lost the ability to send basic commands to most of its satellites and segment of the International Space Station following a vital cable failure near Moscow.
The Roscosmos space agency attributed the embarrassing malfunction to basic road repair work near the the sprawling Korolyov mission control centre that sits within sight of one of Russia's most heavily-used highways.
Industry sources said the problem may take at least 48 hours to fix and could therefore delay the Nov 19 return of three ISS members who are completing their four-month mission on board the floating international space lab.
"Our specialists lack the ability to control the civilian satellites or send commands to the Russian segment of the ISS," RIA Novosti quoted an unidentified Russian space official as saying. "They can see the crew and can talk to them, but they cannot send any commands to the Russian segments." Russia has suffered a string of failed satellite launches and rocket losses in the past two years that prompted reshuffles at the very top of the country's once-proud space industry.