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Camera glitch triggers marathon Russian spacewalk

By Irene Klotz

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) - Spacewalking Russian cosmonauts on Friday spent over eight hours installing two cameras outside the International Space Station for a Canadian streaming-video business and then retrieving the gear due to connectivity problems.

Station commander Oleg Kotov and flight engineer Sergey Ryazanskiy left the station's Pirs airlock at 8 a.m. EST (1300 GMT) as the complex sailed 260 miles over Australia, mission commentator Rob Navias said during a NASA Television broadcast of the spacewalk.

It was the third spacewalk this week by members of the station's six-man crew. NASA astronauts Rich Mastracchio and Mike Hopkins made spacewalks on Saturday and Tuesday to replace a failed cooling pump.

During the first part of Friday's planned seven-hour outing, the Russian cosmonauts set up a high-definition video camera on a swiveling platform and a medium-resolution still imager for Vancouver-based UrtheCast Corp.

The Russian space agency, Roscosmos, agreed to host the cameras on the $100 billion station, a project of 15 countries, in exchange for rights to use images and video taken over Russia. UrtheCast has commercial rights to images and video of the rest of the world, company Chief Executive Scott Larson told Reuters.

UrtheCast intends to sell data to companies and government agencies that buy Earth-observing satellite imagery. It also plans to stream images over the Internet for free to subscribers, with the aim of attracting advertisers and sponsors.

Both ventures are on hold after an unknown glitch kept the cameras, located outside the station's Zvezda command module, from communicating with ground stations.

"Unfortunately, those cameras ... did not provide any electrical signals on the ground," Navias said.

In an email to Reuters, UrtheCast said there was "an issue with the connectivity to the cameras."

"We decided to have the cameras brought back into the (space station) while Roscosmos works on resolving connectivity," the company said.

Kotov and Ryazanskiy disconnected the cameras and cabling, which cut into time allotted to replace several science experiments. The cosmonauts ended up spending eight hours and seven minutes outside the space station, the longest spacewalk in Russian space history.

The world record longest spacewalk was an 8-hour, 56-minute excursion by NASA astronauts Susan Helms and Jim Voss in March 2001.

(Editing by Kevin Gray, Steve Orlofsky and Andrew Hay)

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