It seems NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope is not the only one which has been malfunctioning. Russia’s only space telescope,the Spektr-R, has stopped responding to commands from Roscosmos engineers.
The BBC reports that not many details were disclosed, but on Jan. 10, Russia’s only space telescope stopped receiving commands from Earth. However, even though the telescope no longer receives data from the Russian space agency, it still transmits.
Roscosmos first encountered problems with the telescope’s communication systems on Jan. 10. The space agency found that the device was unable to point at specific targets. Experts from the space agency attempted to restore the telescope’s communication system, but without success so far. Roscosmos has now announced that despite all attempts, “it was not possible to reconnect with the radio telescope.”
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Специалисты Главной оперативной группы управления космическим аппаратом «Спектр-Р» выполнили запланированную на 13 января работу по восстановлению связи с аппаратом.
Восстановить связь с радиотелескопом по результатам проведённых сегодня работ не удалось. pic.twitter.com/BWujgw954g
— РОСКОСМОС (@roscosmos) January 13, 2019
Russia’s only space telescope has encountered various troubles but has managed to persist until now. The telescope was launched in 2011 and was expected to remain in working order only until 2014. However, it outlived its expected lifespan by almost five years. Roscosmos initially planned to launch the telescope between 2004 and 2005, according to Space News. However, due to multiple problems and delays in construction, the space agency wasn’t able to launch the space telescope until 2011.
The telescope consists of a 33-foot radio antenna which enables it to communicate with a large network of telescopes on the ground and conduct research using radio signals from our galaxy, the Milky Way, and beyond. The telescope is designed for other purposes too. It contains special instruments which enable it to observe solar winds and Earth’s outer magnetosphere.
Roscosmos’ experts have still not given up hope in restoring communication with Spektr-R. Yuri Kovalev, head of research for the Spektr-R project, told the BBC that “there is still hope.”
A telescope called the Spektr-RG, which resulted from a Russian-German collaboration, was also expected to be launched in 2011, but due to delays, is is now set for launch in March. Hopefully until then, the Russian space agency will be able to restore the communication system with its only space telescope.
As mentioned above, Russia is not the only one facing problems with its space telescope. Earlier this month, NASA briefly announced new issues with the Hubble Space Telescope when its main wide-angle camera stopped working. Fortunately, the space agency can use Hubble’s other three working cameras: the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS), the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) and the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS.)