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Power at space facility in Russia cut

Sunday, January 27, 2002

MOSCOW -- Power was cut to a key Russian space tracking station in the Far East on Saturday because its bill had not been paid, according to news reports.

The Russian Space Forces facility monitors satellites and is part of the Russian system controlling the International Space Station. The Kamchatka Peninsula unit switched to an emergency power system to stay online, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported.

After the power was cut off by the local energy company, Kamchatenergo, "the command took urgent measures to use reserve power units and diesel generators to maintain the center in a working condition," the Space Forces press service said.

"Shutting off the facility impacted its operation and could have led to the loss of spacecraft costing hundreds of millions of rubles," it said, according to the Interfax news agency. It said Kamchatenergo's actions violated government bans on power cuts at facilities of national security.

But an official of the national electricity company Unified Energy Systems, Andrei Trapeznikov, told Russia's NTV on Saturday night that none of the base's key systems was ever at risk. He denied power was cut to the station's control room or to any technology equipment that could have put satellites at risk, saying only military dormitories and other supply buildings were affected.

The Space Forces press service did not answer repeated phone calls.

According to Interfax, the service said the Kamchatka monitoring station was a key element of control over Russia's national satellite grouping and played an integral part in a system controlling the international space station Alpha.

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