The International Space Station operators had to act quickly to avoid a piece of space debris that came their way on Tuesday, September 22nd.
The situation was so serious that the three crew members of Expedition 63 were instructed to move to the Russian segment of the station so that they could be closer to the Soyuz spacecraft MS-16 in case they had to conduct an emergency escape in the event of a disaster, despite the collision NASA insisted in a message on their website that “the crew was never in danger”.
NASA and Russian air traffic controllers worked together to conduct a maneuver at 2:19 p.m. on Tuesday to adjust the space station’s orbit.
“The maneuver lifted the station’s orbit out of the predicted path of debris, which was an estimated 1.39 kilometers from the station,” NASA said. The size of the property was not disclosed.
After completing the evasive maneuver, the crew members – NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and Russian cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner – were able to resume their regular activities on board the station.
The station moved out of orbit today after a docked supply ship fired its engines at 5:19 p.m. ET. The Exp 63 crew has resumed normal activities. More… https://t.co/LWOgLdshbQ pic.twitter.com/xoYwCyQDsS
– Intl. Space station (@Space_Station) 22nd September 2020
Space debris comes mainly from breakaway events caused by explosions and collisions with decommissioned satellites or discarded parts of rocket launches.
According to NASA, tens of millions of pieces of space debris are currently orbiting the earth. While most of them are less than 1 mm long and impossible to track, there are an estimated 500,000 marble-sized pieces among the rubble.
With the space station orbiting the earth at a speed of around 300 km / h, objects large and small can cause serious damage if they hit the orbiting outpost. The debris could also shut down working satellites, potentially turning off communications links or causing other problems on Earth, while creating more space debris.
A few years ago, astronaut Tim Peake posted a photo of damage to a pane of glass on the space station’s dome, believed to have been caused by a tiny piece of debris whizzing through space than some is thousandths of a millimeter in diameter. “
With space debris increasing, scientists have been looking for ways to cleanse near-earth orbit using various technologies.