September 3, 2009

NASA: Space debris no hazard to the ISS

The U.S. space agency says it will not be necessary to move space shuttle Discovery and the International Space Station to avoid reported space debris.

Astronauts aboard space shuttle Discovery, docked at the International Space Station, were awakened at 12:30 p.m. EDT Thursday with the song There is a God.

Aside the song, performed by 33 Miles and played for astronaut Patrick Forrester, controllers at mission control in Houston told the crew the decision involving a possible debris avoidance maneuver.

NASA scientists had been concerned about the sighting of space debris moving toward the space station. That debris, measuring approximately 204 square feet, is a portion of a European Ariane rocket launched in 2006. But the space agency said its experts analyzed the debris' track and decided against having the shuttle fire its thrusters to move it and the space station.

The second spacewalk of the 13-day STS-128 mission was to begin about 5:19 p.m. EDT Thursday. The space agency said astronauts Danny Olivas and Christer Fuglesang will install a new ammonia tank assembly on the space station's Port 1 truss, aided by station robotic arm operators Kevin Ford and Nicole Stott.