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Moscow (AFP) Nov 15, 2012
Russia on Thursday restored its communications with the International Space Station and satellites after repairing a cable in Moscow that had been damaged during road works.
"The line of communication has been restored. The system of command is working normally," the spokesman for the Russian space agency Roscosmos Alexei Kuznetsov told state media.
Officials had said the road works on the Shchyolkovsky Highway outside Moscow close to a Roscosmos communications station had ruptured a key cable, forcing Russia to lose contact with most of its satellites and a segment of the ISS.
While Roscomos and NASA insisted that the problem had no impact on the space station, the mishap was a major embarrassment for Russia which has in recent months battled a series of failures in its space programme.
Kuznetsov said that the three outgoing astronauts on the ISS -- Russia's Yury Malenchenko, Sunita Williams of the US and Akihiko Hoshide of Japan -- will be able to return to Earth on schedule on November 19.
They will leave behind on board the crew of Russia's Oleg Novitsky and Yevgeny Tarelkin and Kevin Ford of the United States, who will be joined by a new crew on December 19.
Roscosmos sought to play down the loss of communication, a scenario for which the agency's head of human space flight Sergei Krikalyev said the crew was properly prepared.
"The crew trains for this and it's a normal routine to work without communication," he was quoted as saying by the ITAR-TASS news agency.
Kuznetsov said that the cable rupture had had no effect on Russia's management of the ISS and satellites.
NASA said that the communications cut was not a unique occurrence and noted that Russia had the ability to communicate with its segment of the ISS through its US partners.
Interfax said on Wednesday that several vehicles from the Akado company that operates the communications cable had located the site of the tear about six hours after the incident on Wednesday.
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