The astronauts on the ISS had to make a so-called “avoidance maneuver” yesterday (September 22) to ensure they would not be knocked by space debris. The news was released by NASA, urging better management of objects in our planet’s orbit.
The US and Russian astronauts worked together during a two-and-a-half-minute procedure to change the station’s orbit and move further away, avoiding a disaster. Here is what you need to know.
The Maneuver That Saved ISS
Recent space activity urged the ISS astronauts to apply a precise maneuver to save the space station.
The “avoidance maneuver” was needed to avoid the space debris that passed within approximately 1.4 kilometers of the ISS. The three crew members, an American and two Russians, relocated to be closer to their Soyuz spacecraft as the procedure started so they could evacuate if necessary. NASA added that the precaution was taken “out of an abundance of caution.”
According to the US space agency, the crew succeeded in returning to their normal activities after the maneuver. Jim Bridenstine, NASA’s administrator, stated: “Maneuver Burn complete; the astronauts are coming out of safe heaven.”
Space Debris Details
The dangerous debris was just a piece of a 2018 Japanese rocket that broke up into many pieces back in 2019. The ISS usually orbits approximately 260 miles above Earth at a velocity of around 17,000 miles/hour. Even a small object could severely damage a facet of the station or a solar panel at such a speed.
This kind of maneuver is necessary regularly. NASA explained that 25 such procedures had occurred between 1999 and 2018. Bridenstine also said that the recent event marks the third time such a maneuver was needed on the ISS.
The worst part is that the procedures could become even more frequent as Earth’s orbit becomes scattered with pieces of rockets, satellites, and other objects sent into space over the last six decades.
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