International Space Station To Boost To New Orbit To Avoid Space Debris
Lawrence LeBlond for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
The Russian space agency’s Mission Control said it will need to move the International Space Station (ISS) into a new orbit to avoid a possible collision with space debris, Interfax news agency reported today.
Mission Control spokeswoman Nadyezhda Zavyalova said the Russian Zvezda module will fire its booster rockets on Thursday at 7:22 a.m. Moscow time (0322 GMT) to clear the orbiting lab from the path of a fragment of debris from a Japanese spacecraft.
The Japanese space debris is likely to pass dangerously close to the ISS in about 30 hours, Mission Control told Interfax, and therefore it was decided that the evasive maneuver was necessary. Such maneuvers are carried out when a likelihood of collision reaches 1 in 10,000.
NASA estimates there are as many as 21,000 pieces of space junk larger than four inches in diameter floating around the Earth’s orbit. ISS crews had previously taken shelter in the Soyuz capsule twice due to close encounters with space debris. A piece of an old Russian Cosmos satellite came close to the lab last Thursday, and the following day a piece from an Indian rocket flew by the ISS.
While neither of the close passes of space junk posed a significant threat to the ISS, Japan postponed the launch of five small satellites from the station until after this week’s re-orbit maneuver.