Space station will carry out emergency maneuver for space debris

The International Space Station as seen from the Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft on September 28, 2021.

The International Space Station as seen from the Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft on September 28, 2021.
Image: Roscosmos.

SA makeshift “space debris avoidance maneuver” has been programmed to prevent errant space debris from crashing into the International Space Station (ISS), in what is becoming an increasingly routine procedure.

Preliminary calculations suggest that the space junk It will arrive within 600 meters of the International Space Station on Thursday, November 11 at approximately 8:00 p.m. ET (Friday, November 12 at 4:00 a.m. Moscow time), according to the Russian space agency. Roscosmos. That’s too close to be comfortable, requiring the ISS to be positioned further out of the danger zone. The maneuver is scheduled for Wednesday at 3:15 pm ET (11:15 pm Moscow time).

“The probability of impact and the risk to the International Space Station is very low,” explained a NASA spokesperson in an email, adding that “the maneuver is a standard space station maneuver and does not require the crew to take any specific action ”.

The sudden need to relocate the ISS is not expected to affect the launch of SpaceX’s Crew-3 mission, which takes off the same day today (November 10) from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, as NASA officials noted during the pre-flight press conference.

The piece of junk is a remnant of the Fengyun-1C ship. China deliberately destroyed its own weather satellite in January 2007 as part of an anti-satellite missile test. The event sparked much outrage, as experts they criticized China for contributing to the militarization of space and for deliberately producing a dangerous cloud of orbital debris. A fictional version of this event was portrayed in the film Gravity 2013, in which a rapidly expanding cloud of debris, accidentally caused by the shooting down of a spy satellite by Russia, destroyed the ISS.

To keep that story only fiction, flight controllers plan to move the EEI by turning on the engines of Russia’s Soyuz MS-18 transport vehicle, currently docked at the station. The chosen impulse force will move the space station at a speed of 0.7 meters per second for 6 minutes, according to Roscosmos. The maneuver will increase the altitude of the space station by 1,240 meters, placing it in an operational orbit about 421 km above Earth.

ISS Has made 29 evasion maneuvers in the last 22 years, including three in 2020. The most recent occurred on September 22, 2020, when space debris from a Japanese rocket threatened to pass 1.39 kilometers from the orbital station.

It’s a trend that is likely to get worse over time, as satellites go further and further into low Earth orbit and as the volume of orbital debris increases, and while we continue to do nothing significant about it, such as limit objects allowed in space or by financing the development of satellites capable of clean up our orbital disorder.

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