Debris scattered by a Russian anti-satellite weapons test almost collided with the International Space Station, reveals NASA. Here is how the ISS saved itself.
Space debris almost crashed into the International Space Station (ISS)! NASA revealed that the ISS had to conduct a complicated avoidance maneuver on June 16 to avoid being hit by orbital debris from a Russian anti-satellite weapons test that destroyed a satellite. Back in November 2021, Russia conducted an anti-satellite weapon test. It destroyed the Soviet-era Cosmos 1408 satellite and released more than 1,500 pieces of debris in space. After months, some pieces of that debris nearly collided with the ISS.
Roscosmos, Russia’s space agency used an uncrewed Progress 81 cargo ship anchored at the International Space Station to move the orbiting lab clear of fragments of space debris, while sharing a video of the whole activity on the social media platform Telegram. Russia’s Progress 81 cargo ship shot its thrusters for 4 minutes and 34 seconds to provide the complex and extra measure of putting some distance between the space station and the debris. Also read: Can a power plant in space send electricity back to Earth? China has a plan!
“I confirm that at 22.03 Moscow time, the engines of the Russian Progress MS-20 transport cargo ship carried out an unscheduled maneuver to avoid a dangerous approach of the International Space Station with a fragment of the Kosmos-1408 spacecraft,” Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin wrote on his Telegram posts. Also read: NASA finds shiny foil on Mars! What is this?
While confirming the incident and the maneuver on the space station, NASA says in a blog post, “The crew was never in any danger and the maneuver had no impact on station operations. Without the maneuver, it was predicted that the fragment could have passed within around a half-mile from the station.”
Last year, a piece of debris hit the robotic arm of the space station, puncturing a hole in it. The European Space Agency assesses that there are more than a million pieces of potentially damaging debris in orbit.