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The technical commission of the RSC "Energia" has analyzed the situation during the REFLECTOR experiment performed outside MIR station on July 23 1999, when the experimental reflector antenna developed by the EGS company did not unfold completely. The comission has concluded that there were three most probable reasons for the failure:

  • The atmospheric moisture could get into the hinges of a ring while equipment was inside the station. This moisture has frozen instantaneously after the equipment was taken to the outer space. The small crystals of ice have considerably increased the resistance to the deployment, and microengines power was not sufficient in order to completely open the ring of a reflector
  • The majority of microengines has burned down during a deployment, therefore it was not possible to complete the deployment
  • There was a break in the electric circuit because of poor contact of connectors, or because of a spontaneous disconnection of one of them

All versions were carefully checked in the RSC "Energia" and EGS, including experiments on the duplicate of a reflector on the test bench in Tbilisi. The calculations have shown that such a low content of moisture which was in the atmosphere of station during storage of reflector equipment, could not have an effect on the deployment of the structure. The second possible reason was also rejected on following reasons: in order to put engines of drives out of operation, the electric current should be many times above the nominal value. But in this case the current protection of an onboard electrical network of station would operate. Besides it was proved experimentally, that even three out of eight engines could ensure the succesful deployment.

The commission has made following conclusions from results of this analysis:

  1. The antenna was not deployed completely due to the disconnection in the onboard electrical circuit
  2. The mechanical part of reflector operated in complete accordance with the design
  3. In order to continue the investigations of the antenna the works on further antenna deployment and antenna jettisoning should be conducted during next spacewalk on July 28, 1999