Tags: space | station | collision | junk

Debris Prompts Space Station Crew to Seek Shelter

Saturday, 24 Mar 2012 12:32 PM

 

  Comment  |
   Contact  |
  Print   |
    A   A  
  Copy Shortlink

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- A passing piece of potentially dangerous space debris forced astronauts at the International Space Station to temporarily seek refuge in escape ships early on Saturday, U.S. officials said.

The debris, a fragment from an old Russian satellite named Cosmos 2251 that smashed into an Iridium Communications spacecraft in 2009, passed harmlessly by the $100 billion orbital outpost at 2:38 a.m. EDT, NASA said.

With enough advance notice, NASA would maneuver the space station, which orbits about 240 miles above the planet, to put more space between it and passing debris. The other option is for the station's six crew members to take shelter inside the two Soyuz capsules berthed at the station in case the outpost is struck and depressurizes.

"This was a very erratic piece of Cosmos 2251 debris and tracking it was very difficult," NASA spokesman Michael Curie wrote in an email to Reuters.

"Its size and exact distance are unknown, and the crew sheltered in place as a highly-conservative, cautionary measure. The predicted miss distance prior to its passing was 11 to 14 kilometers [6.8 to 8.7 miles] in overall miss distance. But again, we do not know its exact distance at 2:38 am EDT, the time of closest approach," he said.

It was the third time a crew has had to shelter in Soyuz spacecraft when debris was predicted to pass close to the space station, NASA said.

More than 20,000 pieces of man-made debris larger than a softball currently orbit Earth. Space junk travels at speeds of up to 17,500 mph, so even small pieces have enough energy to cause significant damage upon impact.

NASA says the greatest risk from debris comes from untrackable objects. The Feb. 10, 2009, collision of the Russian and Iridium satellites added more than 2,000 pieces of trackable debris to the growing list of space junk. Two years earlier, China intentionally destroyed one of its defunct weather satellites to test a missile, generating more than 3,000 pieces of debris.

The U.S. military's Space Surveillance Network tracks objects as small as two inches in diameter in orbits close to Earth, such as where the space station flies, and about one yard in orbit in higher orbits.

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

  Comment  |
   Contact  |
  Print   |
  Copy Shortlink
Around the Web
Join the Newsmax Community
Please review Community Guidelines before posting a comment.
>> Register to share your comments with the community.
>> Login if you are already a member.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
Email:
Country
Zip Code:
Privacy: We never share your email.
 
Follow Newsmax
Like us
on Facebook
Follow us
on Twitter
Add us
on Google Plus
Around the Web
Top Stories
You May Also Like

Rosetta Comet-Landing Is 2014's Top Science Breakthrough

Friday, 19 Dec 2014 08:37 AM

The top scientific breakthrough of 2014 was the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft's rendezvous with a comet, th . . .

Japanese Scientist Resigns Over Stem Cell Scandal

Friday, 19 Dec 2014 08:30 AM

A researcher embroiled in a fabrication scandal that has rocked Japan's scientific establishment said Friday she would r . . .

Methane on Mars Spikes Frequently, but Source Unknown

Tuesday, 16 Dec 2014 13:54 PM

Methane, a gas that on Earth comes mainly from living organisms, spikes regularly on Mars but scientists have not been a . . .

Most Commented

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

 
NEWSMAX.COM
America's News Page
©  Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved