Station Crew Clear To Exit Soyuz Vehicles
The Expedition 30 crew aboard the International Space Station received an “all clear” to move out of their Soyuz vehicles after a small piece of Russian Cosmos satellite debris passed by the complex without incident early Saturday. They began the process of moving out of the vehicles and back to their regular duties and a weekend off.
Flight Director Jerry Jason decided to direct the station crew to take shelter in their respective Soyuz vehicles for a short period of time after ballistics specialists received data that showed a small possibility of a conjunction with the debris. So few tracking passes were received so as to require a cautionary and prudent approach.
Jason notified the crew of the need for them to take shelter in their Soyuz spacecraft as a precautionary measure. They were awakened at 11:30 p.m. EDT to begin preparations.
The debris was initially tracked Friday morning, but the late notification to the flight control team of a possible conjunction between the debris and the station precluded planning for a maneuver to steer clear of the object which was predicted to pass about 23 kilometers from the complex at its closest approach Saturday at 2:38 a.m.
NASA´s Expedition 30 Commander Dan Burbank and Russian cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoly Ivanishin entered their Soyuz TMA-22 spacecraft attached to the Poisk module on the space-facing side of the Zvezda service module, while cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, NASA´s Don Pettit and Andre Kuipers of the European Space Agency settled into their Soyuz TMA-03M spacecraft on the Earth-facing side of the Zarya module to wait for the debris to pass, after which they exited their respective spacecraft and resumed their normal duties.
It is the third time in station history that a crew has had to shelter in their Soyuz return craft due to the possibility of a conjunction with orbital debris and the first since June 2011.