March 22, 2009

Space station avoids debris

The crew aboard the International Space Station maneuvered the station and the shuttle Discovery Sunday to avoid space debris, the U.S. space agency said.

Meanwhile, mission specialists Joseph Acaba and Richard Arnold spent part of Sunday evening reviewing spacewalk procedures and will camp out overnight in the Quest Airlock, NASA said on its Web site.

The astronauts moved the shuttle Discovery in front of the space station in an undock attitude maneuver designed to avoid the potentially damaging space debris about 4:30 p.m. EDT. About three hours later, they returned the spacecraft to their normal attitude, with the shuttle behind the space station as they travel through space, NASA said.

The debris was estimated to be about 4 inches in diameter, part of a spent Chinese satellite upper stage, the space agency said.

In other work Sunday, space station Commander Mike Fincke replaced a filter assembly in a urine processor assembly that Mission Control hopes will increase the unit's flow rate. This issue is not related to the newly installed distillation equipment, NASA said.

The space travelers woke up Sunday to the song Alive Again by Chicago, requested by shuttle Commander Lee Archambault. The shuttle astronauts got some off-duty time during the morning and then were to talk to reporters later in the day.