Google+ SpaceTravelFoundation: Russia Loses Control of Orbiting Experiment Module

July 24, 2014

Russia Loses Control of Orbiting Experiment Module

Dear readers and followers,

Russia’s Roscosmos space agency on July 24 said it had lost control of the Photon-M4 unmanned life- and materials-sciences experiment module launched July 19 but that the 6,840-kilogram module appeared otherwise to be operating normally.

Credit image: Roscosmos

Roscosmos said Photon-M4 was designed to operate autonomously for extended periods and that, for the moment, the many on-board experiments are continuing to function as designed.

Photon-M4, launched aboard a Soyuz rocket from Russia’s Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, is in a 575-kilometer circular orbit inclined at 64.9 degrees relative to the equator. The latest in a series of Bion and Photon capsules, Photon-M4 is designed to operate for about two months before separating from its service module and reentering the atmosphere to be retrieved for experiment analysis.

Roscosmos said ground operators lost control of Photon-M4 after only a few orbits. Their primary objective now, the agency said, is to restore command-and-control links with the spacecraft.

Stay tuned