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Russian Spacewalk Cut Short Due to Battery Malfunction


Spacesuit power problem cuts Russian spacewalk short outside space station. | Image by SPACE.com

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A Russian cosmonaut was ordered to abandon his work and return to the International Space Station’s (ISS) airlock on Wednesday due to an issue with his spacesuit.

NASA officials stated during a live stream that cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev was never in danger, ABC News reported. Nonetheless, problems with his spacesuit’s battery pack on August 17 were severe enough that Russian Mission Control ordered him to return to the space station and connect his suit to ISS power.

According to commentary on the spacewalk, the battery issues were causing “voltage fluctuations” in Artemyev’s spacesuit.

Officials on the ground continually advised Artemyev to return to the airlock.

One of the last messages sent from the ground before Artemyev confirmed he was on his way to the airlock was, “Drop everything and start going back right away.”

A few minutes later, about two hours into his six-and-a-half-hour spacewalk, he re-entered the space station and connected his suit to its power, according to CBS News.

The cosmonaut working on the spacewalk alongside Artemyev, Denis Matveev, remained just outside the airlock for more than an hour tidying up before flight controllers decided to call it a day due to Artemyev’s spacesuit problems, according to ABC.

The space station is managed by American and Russian agencies, as well as organizations from Canada, Japan, and the 11 European Space Agency (ESA) member countries, The Dallas Express reported.

The massive space station is roughly the size of a football field, has two main sections, and orbits Earth at a distance of about 250 miles. Astronauts from NASA and the ESA pilot one half of the spacecraft, while Russian cosmonauts pilot the other.

In late July, Russia announced it would leave the ISS when its current commitment expires in 2024.

While the announcement was not unexpected, experts predicted that keeping the ISS operational would be extremely difficult, reported The Dallas Express.

Yuri Borisov, head of Russia’s space agency Roscomos, made the declaration after discussions with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Borisov, who previously oversaw the country’s defense industry, was appointed to lead Roscomos just last month.

Borisov announced that Russia intends to build its own orbital station, possibly operational by 2025, according to The Dallas Express.

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