Space station dodges Chinese debris in orbit, hours before SpaceX Crew-3 launch
The International Space Station (ISS) was forced to change course – hours before a new crew of astronauts flew to the floating laboratory – to avoid being hit by space debris left after a Chinese mission .
A maneuver was carried out Wednesday evening by the Russian space agency Roscosmos to dodge space debris produced from a Chinese anti-satellite weapon test in 2007.
The thrusters of a cargo ship docked at the station were triggered for 361 seconds to clear the way to the station.
“With the help of the engines of the Progress MS-18 freighter, the orbital altitude of the International Space Station (ISS) has been increased to avoid collisions with space debris,” Roscosmos said on social media.
“According to preliminary data, after the maneuver, the orbital altitude of the ISS increased by approximately 1.2 kilometers.”
The space debris was part of a Chinese weather satellite destroyed by a Chinese suborbital missile test 14 years ago, producing thousands of space debris.
Since then, the debris has been drawn closer to Earth and entered the space station’s flight path.
During the SpaceX Crew-3 pre-launch briefing, NASA said the maneuver was needed before four astronauts could be launched towards the ISS.
Earlier this year, the remains of China’s largest rocket made an uncontrolled re-entry to Earth, sparking international anxiety.
The debris landed in the Indian Ocean near the Maldives, with social media users around the world reporting sightings of the junk hurtling through the sky.
For years, space experts have voiced concerns about the growing amount of space debris.
More than 23,000 objects, the size of a softball or larger, are tracked around the clock for potential collisions with satellites or the ISS.
The station has been operational for 20 years and is used for scientific experiments.
In June, space debris struck the space station, leaving a hole in the laboratory’s robotic arm.
The Canadian Space Agency’s Canadarm2, located outside the station, was damaged but is still functioning.
Watch: NASA and SpaceX launch four astronauts in flight towards the space station
Updated: November 11, 2021, 9:32 a.m.