Roscosmos and NASA reported that the International Space Station performed an evasive maneuver in order to avoid a piece space junk expected to pass within 600m of it.
“In order to avoid the space debris, the specialists of [mission control] performed a calculation to correct the orbit of the International Space Station,” Russia’s space agency Roscosmos said in a statement on Wednesday, noting that the ISS successfully increased its orbital altitude by about 1.2 kilometers (0.7 miles).
NASA also stated that the maneuver was meant to be prepared for two Russian missions, and had merely the “collateral effect”It is possible to place the station out of reach of debris.
The objects in orbit were expected to pass by the ISS on the morning of November 12 and would have come as close as 600 meters away from the station, the Russian agency continued, adding that the debris originated from China’s Fengyun-1C weather satellite.
Beijing deliberately destroyed the Fengyun-1C during an anti-satellite rocket test in 2007. This resulted in more than 2,800 fragments of high-velocity space debris. It is now more powerful than any other space mission, NASA says. Wednesday’s maneuver is not the first intended to put the ISS out of the Fengyun-1C’s path, while debris from the same craft has previously collided with a Russian satellite.
The orbital dodge took place just as NASA and its private-sector partner SpaceX prepare for their next manned mission to the ISS, directly on the heels of SpaceX’s Crew-2 Dragon mission, which successfully returned to earth with its four-person crew earlier this week after some six months docked on the station.
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