International Space Station Fires Up Thrusters to Provide 'Extra Measure of Distance' from Russian Satellite Debris


The International Space Station has taken action to prevent a dangerous collision in orbit.

The permanent space facility used thruster engines to avoid a close call with a fragment of debris from a destroyed Russian satellite earlier this week.

The ISS fired the thruster engines of an attached Progress 81 cargo craft for just over five minutes on Monday, according to NASA.

The space agency is calling the move a “Pre-Determined Debris Avoidance Maneuver.”

It’s not a sure bet that the fragment would have struck the space station if it wasn’t for the move, but the possibility was there.

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Experts projected that the space junk would have come within three miles of the International Space Station, according to NASA.

The course change provided an “extra measure of distance” away from any debris.

The Russian satellite in question — Cosmos 1408 — was destroyed just last year in the test of a Russian anti-satellite weapon, according to NASA.

The object was no longer operational.

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NASA Administrator Bill Nelson criticized the test at the time, calling the further militarization of space “irresponsible,” according to the tech website CNET.

The crew of the International Space Station had to take emergency cover after the test of the weapon.

Both Russia and the United States have partnered in the development of the International Space Station since 1998, in what could be described as the greatest cooperation between the two powers in the post-Soviet era.

There are signs that this will soon change.

The Russian Federation has indicated it intends to withdraw from the International Space Station by 2024, claiming it will instead develop its own space facility orbiting the Earth, according to the BBC.

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Space debris has become an increasing problem for governments and private corporations interested in navigating Earth’s orbit.

“Space debris is extremely dangerous,” Rebecca Allen, an astrophysicist at the Swinburne Center for Astrophysics and Supercomputing in Melbourne, Australia, told CNET in a 2020 article.

“Something the size of a ChapStick could punch right through the space station.”

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