Russian Satellite Debris Zooms by Space Station

By | December 2, 2009 tiny piece of a defunct Russian satellite zipped by the International Space Station Tuesday, but was far enough away that outpost’s two-man crew did not have to strap into their lifeboat to wait out the close shave, NASA officials said.

The debris – a small piece of a Cosmos satellite less than four inches (10 cm) wide – zoomed by the station at 1:19 p.m. EST (1819 GMT) and came less than a mile (1 km) of the outpost at its closest point.

“Updates showed that it would not come close enough to the space station to require any change in the processes onboard or require precautionary measures,” said NASA spokesperson Kylie Clem.

NASA detected the object too late to move the space station clear of the incoming space trash by firing its thrusters.

Instead, NASA told the station’s American commander Jeffrey Williams and Russian flight engineer Maxim Suraev that they might have to wake up during their sleep period and take refuge in their Soyuz spacecraft. The Russian-built Soyuz vehicles ferry crews to and from the station, and also serve as lifeboats in case astronauts must leave the orbiting laboratory in an emergency.

But additional analysis of the object’s trajectory found that, despite its close pass, the satellite remnant posed no danger of hitting the space station. NASA typically moves the space station if there is a 1-in-10,000 chance of an object striking the $100 billion orbiting laboratory.

Tuesday’s space debris event marked the third time in less than a week that station managers kept a watchful eye on debris near the space station. An old piece of an American rocket flew by the station Saturday and part of a defunct experiment payload buzzed the outpost on Monday. Neither of those objects posed a threat to the station – they were several kilometers away – but NASA tracked them anyway to be sure. …

via Russian Satellite Debris Zooms by Space Station – Yahoo! News.

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