Science

ISS: the station just avoided the remains of a rocket

This is not the first time for the ISS. In fact, according to NASA, a recent Russian anti-satellite missile had already compromised the station a few weeks earlier. More recently, the US space agency had to postpone a spacewalk due to debris thrown during the explosion of the Russian missile in question. But this time it’s ancient debris, from a Pegasus rocket.

ISS – Credit: wikimedia

Having anticipated the threat for a long time, it is in peace that the technicians were able to avoid the debris. According to a NASA statement, the rocket piece, named Object 39915, was created in 1996. The debris was ejected when the upper stage of a Pegasus rocket, launched two years earlier, shattered. Unfortunately, this is not the only waste in orbit. A private company called Privateer, of which Apple’s co-founder is the CEO, plans to clean up Earth’s orbit.

ISS: space debris avoided, but many more in orbit

In a tweet posted on Wednesday, December 1, Roscosmos highlighted the risk posed by the Pegasus rocket fragment. ISS controllers estimated that the debris would pass relatively close to the station, some 5.4 km away. Then, on Friday, December 3, around 3 a.m. EST (8 a.m. GMT), a Russian cargo ship docked at the International Space Station activated its thrusters for just under three minutes. The maneuver made it possible to temporarily lower the orbit of the ISS, in order to avoid a possible collision.

According to statements by NASA and its Russian counterpart Roscosmos, the operation was a success. The avoidance maneuver is not expected to affect the next scheduled launch to the International Space Station. On Wednesday, December 8, a Russian Soyuz capsule will take off with an experienced cosmonaut on board, as well as a Japanese billionaire and his production assistant. The trio are expected to spend around 12 days in space, including more than a week aboard the orbiting laboratory.

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