Russia loses control of its only radio telescope in space


First publication:

Moscow (AFP)

Russia has lost control of its only space radio telescope, the Spektr-R, but is working to restore communication with the spacecraft, Russian space agency Roscosmos said on Monday it has seen a series of flaws in recent years.

The giant telescope – Spektr-R or RadioAstron – no longer responds to instructions from its control center on Earth since Thursday, said Roscosmos, who recently experienced the failure to launch a Soyuz rocket with two men on board.

A new attempt to regain control on Monday night failed, according to Russian news agencies quoting a Roscomo official.

An American observatory, however, has received signals from the aircraft, which means that its aircraft systems operate autonomously, the Russian space agency said.

The Spektr-R telescope – nicknamed "Russian Hubble" in reference to the US Space Telescope – was launched in 2011 to observe black holes, neutron stars and magnetic fields.

With Earth-based observatories and a 10-meter antenna, it is one of the largest telescopes in the world.

A new attempt to make contact with the device will take place Monday at 1600 GMT, according to Roscosmos, the former remained unsuccessful.

"You can not bury a satellite that is undoubtedly still alive," project director Yuri Kovalev said in an e-mail to AFP, declining to say that the telescope was definitely lost.

"It's like asking for a comment on a patient's health status at a time when doctors are struggling to save him," he added.

The Spektr-R telescope should remain in service only until 2014, but its mission has been expanded. According to experts, this project was a major success for the Russian space program.

Russia plans to launch another telescope this year, Spektr-RG, whose mission will be to "complete the map of the world," according to Roscosmos.

In October, the Soyuz rocket, which would take two astronauts, a Russian and an American, to the orbital station, failed. The two men returned to Earth safely and safely after the automatic ejection of their capsule.


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