back to article Epic spacewalk, epic FAIL: Cosmonauts point new antenna in the wrong direction

A record-breaking spacewalk conducted over the weekend ended with an antenna pointed in the wrong direction on the International Space Station (ISS). The walk by Roscosmos' Alexander Misurkin (commander of Expedition 54) and flight engineer Anton Shkaplerov was scheduled to last 6.5 hours, but blew out to a Russian record of …

  1. HildyJ
    Pint

    Apple comments:

    Obviously he was holding it wrong.

  2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    the cosmonauts gave it a shove in the direction of Earth, in the expectation it will burn up in the planet's atmosphere

    Actually they throw if antispinwards of the ISS, which is sane:

    "East (spinward) takes you out, out takes you west, west (antispinward) takes you in, in takes you east, port and starboard bring you back."

    I don't know whether that little push was enough to make the package drop sufficiently low. Maybe one should have crossbow catapults.

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Deorbit throw

      I was curious, so I looked up the equations. First: a handy graph of ISS altitude with time. The 400km altitude for ISS is only valid after an orbit raising burn. Just before each burn, the altitude can be 330km. An object needs to be in a circular orbit with an altitude of 160km to go round the Earth once. A tennis serve is sufficient to go from 400km circular to 400-160km elliptical. A fast bowler has enough delta-v to put a cricket ball into a 330-160km orbit from 330km circular. Just letting something float away so it misses the next orbit raising burn means it burn up in about a year.

      Ignoring air resistance, a gentle throw antispinward will drop perigee by 50km and mean an object does one less orbit than the ISS in about a month. That should be plenty of time for air resistance to drop apogee well below the ISS.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Deorbit throw

        "A fast bowler has enough delta-v to put a cricket ball into a 330-160km orbit from 330km circular."

        The slipper run-up would be a bit of a problem.

        1. lglethal Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: Deorbit throw

          "A fast bowler has enough delta-v to put a cricket ball into a 330-160km orbit from 330km circular."

          I would not want to be the Keeper in that game...

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Deorbit throw

          "The slipper run-up would be a bit of a problem."

          Dammit! Slippery.

      2. phuzz Silver badge

        Re: Deorbit throw

        Looking at the video and calculating guessing wildly, that hunk of electronics looked to probably mass something around 1-5kg, and I'm guessing they gave it 1m/s of dV.

        It did look like the cosmonaut was waiting until a certain time to 'launch' it, so I suspect they waited until apogee and sent it retrograde in order to drop it's perigee as much as possible.

      3. Annihilator
        Boffin

        Re: Deorbit throw

        "Ignoring air resistance, a gentle throw antispinward will drop perigee by 50km and mean an object does one less orbit than the ISS in about a month"

        And it has the happy side effect of boosting the orbit of the ISS by a teeny tiny fraction.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The tiny delta-v added would not significantly alter its orbit, and it will be returning to the immediate area after about 90 minutes. That's how it works. Eventually its orbital characteristics will diverge enough to send it 'away,' but it will still be in a nice stable orbit for quite a while.

    3. vir

      Crossbow Catapults

      Or those little jet-pod things.

  3. Blofeld's Cat
    Coat

    Hmm ...

    If it's an "AE-35" unit, then there may be trouble ahead ...

    1. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

      Re: Hmm ...

      They could try putting it back, and waiting until they get a reliable fsilure.

      That's what I would recomend...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: then there may be trouble ahead ...

      ... but while there's moonlight and ...

    3. BugabooSue

      Re: Hmm ...

      Damn!!

      Beat me to it!! :)

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Hmm ...

        Damn!!

        In Space no-one can hear you scream

  4. FozzyBear Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Whoopsy,

    Remember next time point it at the big blue ball thingy a.k.a Earth

  5. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Murphy's Law strikes again....

    See title. I think almost everyone has been hit by this at one time or another but maybe not as spectacularly.

    1. David Given

      Re: Murphy's Law strikes again....

      Unfortunately...

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eW_ERnIa6fE

      (that's video of the Proton-M launch failure caused by installing the inertial guidance sensors backwards)

  6. Gene Cash Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Actually, it doesn't really matter

    If it extends to the left or to the right, it's all the same. As long as it's not still retracted, it works.

    Really kind of sad though, that something so trivial is what you hooked on.

  7. jake Silver badge

    Damn litterbugs.

    Can't escape the scum, even in LEO ...

  8. gekko

    Direction does matter.

    If the antenna is high-gain, as the article says, it is basically uni-directional. If it is not aimed at the Earth as it is supposed to be, it will not function well at all. I think NASA just didn't want to make the cosmonauts look stupid.

    1. Jonathon Green

      Re: Direction does matter.

      Depends.

      Some nominally highly directional, high gain antennas show a decent back lobe in the gain plot so (while it’s clearly far from optimal) they might just get away with it...

  9. unwarranted triumphalism

    It's great to see taxpayers' mony being spent wisely.

    1. Kane Silver badge
      Joke

      "It's great to see taxpayers' mony money being spent wisely."

      Ahh, you mean like education and literacy and spelling and stuff?

    2. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

      I think Russians are used to seeing worse, with all these oligarchs ...

      (sadly, not a joke)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Bronek - Sadly

        Russia is not the only country having oligarchs but nobody seem to remark... And this is not a joke.

  10. fedoraman
    Go

    That was the *easy* part. The tricky bit ... getting the computer to open the pod bay doors to let you back in.

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      "Alexa, open the pod bay doors."

      "Sorry, I've lost the connection."

      1. Farnet

        Re: "Alexa, open the pod bay doors."

        "Thank you Dave 10 boxes of Tide Pods have been orders"

  11. brotherelf

    That'll teach them…

    … to use a USB connector for the antenna. At least us mere mortals only need to crawl under the desk for a bit of the old "pull it out and put it in the other way" to get things to work, no space suit needed.

  12. Pat Harkin

    I'm sorry Dave...

    ...but the replacement AE35 communications unit does not appear to be functioning. I cannot understand it.

  13. iron Silver badge

    How are they a super power?

    http://i.imgur.com/Vg2MWwL.jpg

  14. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
    Happy

    Tinfoil?

    Just wrap a couple of bits of tinfoil on it, should sort it.

    That's why you put the antenna in the loft, not on the roof. Much easier to get to when it needs adjusting, and doesn't corrode.

  15. Potemkine! Silver badge

    Pigs indeed fly, in space

    rather than hauling the old electronics unit back into the ISS, the cosmonauts gave it a shove in the direction of Earth,

    What a jerk.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Pigs indeed fly, in space

      gave it a shove in the direction of Earth,

      Orbits don't work like that - it IS rocket science

  16. lecson

    Erm

    You're all assuming it was a mistake to point it 180 degrees away from Earth.

    Maybe there IS something out there they're not telling us about …

    1. eldakka Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Erm

      > Maybe there IS something out there they're not telling us about …

      Obviously the Russians know where Zuma is!

  17. locojoe

    Raise their orbit

    They should have a device on the IIS to fire off rubbish to raise their orbit. Make some use of all the items not needed and anything ejected would burn up faster as well as it's orbit would drop into the atmosphere faster.

    1. Tempest8008
      Mushroom

      Re: Raise their orbit

      A rail-gun pointed at the Earth...I can see all of the involved parties having issues with that.

    2. imanidiot Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Raise their orbit

      But how do you stop the ISS inhabitants from loading anything and everything into the gun just to see what happens?

      "Come on Ivan, you've had your fun. It's my turn to shoot a bag of excrement at Washington!"

      1. Rob Daglish
        Joke

        Re: Raise their orbit

        I was under the impression the bag of excrement made it to Washington, and was made President as a reward?

  18. ecofeco Silver badge

    Pointed antenna in wrong direction?

    But did they really?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pointing antenna

    I see the problem: you're supposed to move the antenna while yelling to someone inside for a signal report. The person inside yells back through the open window. I'm guessing they forgot to open the ISS window.

  20. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    Simple solution...

    Just flip the ISS over.

  21. Terje

    I thought it was one of the big no nos of spacewalks was to intentionally lose stuff, yes it will deorbit relatively fast, but given a bit of bad luck it is supposedly possible to have a nasty encounter with the gently floating away object at several kilometers per second a month or so later (can't remember the particulars for that though so take it with about .75 kg of salt).

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Spanners Silver badge
        Pirate

        It's like dropping a brick out of your car window at 70MPH - it is unlikely to hit YOUR windscreen.

        I just visualised my little brothers Hot Wheels set. It would if you were doing one of those loops at the time!

  22. Kingbob

    Havent they watched Wall-E or Gravity? Just attach a fire extinguisher to it!

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