RJ Pierce, Tech Times
The ISS just performed a risky but necessary evasive maneuver shortly before the latest NASA Crew-3 mission went into orbit.
(Photo : Getty Images )
That’s because the International Space Station just performed what is called an engine burn maneuver to avoid hitting a big chunk of space junk, writes The Register.
The aforementioned space junk was a piece of a destroyed Chinese satellite called Fengyun-1C, which was scuttled in 2007.
It all happened at around 8:15 PM UTC. The thrusters on the Russian Progress MS-18 cargo vehicle, which was docked at the ISS at the time, fired up its engines for just over six minutes to nudge the space station away from the incoming space junk.
This was confirmed by the Russian space agency Roscosmos on Twitter.
С помощью двигателей грузового корабля #ПрогрессМС18 высоту орбиты Международной космической станции увеличили, чтобы избежать столкновения с «космическим мусором».
По предварительным данным, после проведения маневра высота орбиты МКС увеличилась примерно на 1,2 км pic.twitter.com/DmGZLfQiIc
— РОСКОСМОС (@roscosmos) November 10, 2021
The English translation is as follows:
“With the help of the engines of the #Progress MS18 cargo vehicle, the orbital altitude of the International Space Station was increased to avoid collision with space debris. According to preliminary data, after the maneuver, the orbital altitude of the ISS increased by about 1.2 km.”
NASA officials are always keeping tabs on the space junk by monitoring the so-called “Pizza Box.” According to a report by The New York Times, the Pizza Box is an area 30 miles wide and 2.5 miles deep, in the middle of which sits the ISS.
Anything that enters the box could be on a potential crash course with the station. As such, they appropriately identified the debris from Fengyun-1C and advised Roscosmos to fire up the thrusters on their crew vehicle.
Read also: ISS Food Is Not All Bland, Says French Astronaut; But How Exactly Is Food Packed For Outer Space?
What Exactly Was The Space Junk That Almost Hit The ISS?
Fengyun-1C was a Chinese weather satellite launched in 1999, then subsequently decommissioned in 2002. It remained intact and non-functional up there until 2007 when the Chinese government fired a missile at it, smashing it to bits.
Many nations condemned the missile test, but there weren’t any other major reactions aside from that.
The Growing Issue With Space Junk
The piece of Fengyun-1C is just one of so many other pieces of space junk scattered around Earth’s orbit–remnants of the world’s entrance into the Space Age during the late 50s.
To date, an estimated 29,570 different chunks of debris are being actively monitored by various space surveillance networks, according to data from the ESA. And in total, the mass of all of the space junk in Earth’s orbit is a whopping 96,000 tons.
(Photo : Getty Images )
One of the worst things about space debris is that they don’t even need to be big to cause real damage. Even something as small as a few centimeters could bore a hole through any spacecraft–not to mention a space station–because there’s absolutely no friction in space.
The International Space Station has made 29 evasion maneuvers since 1999. And they’re still posing a massive danger to all spacecraft launching from Earth. As such, various organizations have been trying to come with solutions to the problem, writes Space.com.
For now, though, they’re still out there with no cleanup efforts in sight.
Related: LOOK: ISS Releases Photos of SpaceX Crew-2 Departing From Station, Elon Musk Gets Mind Blown
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Written by RJ Pierce
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