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Russian cosmonauts rushed back inside ISS mid-spacewalk due to spacesuit battery voltage drop

The Independent logo The Independent 18/08/2022 Vishwam Sankaran
Russia International Space Station © Roscosmos Space Agency Press Service Russia International Space Station

Russian cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev and Denis Matveev cut short their planned spacewalk on Wednesday and returned to the International Space Station (ISS) due to a spacesuit malfunction.

During the Expedition 67 spacewalk on 17 August, the cosmonauts were expected to install cameras on the European robotic arm, and relocate an external control panel for the arm from one operating area to another.

They were also planning to test a mechanism on the arm that will be used to facilitate the grasping of payloads, according to Nasa.

This was Mr Artemyev’s seventh spacewalk in his career, and the third for Mr Matveev.

It was also the seventh spacewalk at the station in 2022, and the 252nd for space station assembly, maintenance, and upgrades.

But just as the duo completed the installation of two cameras on the 11m (36 ft) European robotic arm, Russian flight controllers instructed them to quickly return inside after Mr Artemyev’s Orlan spacesuit started showing “abnormal battery readings”.

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Mission Control-Moscow instructed Mr Artemyev to return just two hours into the planned 6 and a half-hour spacewalk and connect to the space station’s power supply.

The European robotic arm has been placed in a safe configuration, Nasa said, adding that the cosmonauts were “never in any danger” during the operations despite the battery power issue.

Mr Matveev remained outside for about an hour, completing some final clean-up activities outside of the ISS, and then safely returned.

“You know, the start was so excellent,” Mr Matveev told the Associated Press.

“Additional spacewalks are planned to continue outfitting the European robotic arm and to activate Nauka’s airlock for future spacewalks,” Nasa noted in an update.

The robotic arm is expected to be used to move spacewalkers and payloads around the Russian segment of the station.

Meanwhile, Nasa spacewalks have been on hold for several months.

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