Space station avoids orbital debris from Russian anti-satellite test

A piece of space debris from a test of Russian anti-satellite weapons forced the International Space Station to maneuver to avoid orbital debris Thursday, June 16.

Russia’s Roscosmos space agency used an uncrewed Progress 81 cargo ship docked to the International Space Station to move the laboratory into orbit away from a piece of space debris from Russia’s Cosmos 1408 satellite, sharing video of the activity (opens in a new tab) on the social media service Telegram. Russia destroyed the defunct Soviet-era satellite during an anti-satellite missile test in November 2021.

“I confirm that at 10:03 p.m. Moscow time, the engines of the Russian Progress MS-20 transport cargo ship performed an unplanned maneuver to avoid a dangerous approach to the International Space Station with a fragment of the Kosmos-1408 spacecraft,” said said the head of Roscosmos, Dmitry. Rogozin wrote on Telegram (opens in a new tab)according to a Google translation, using the Roscosmos designation for Progress 81.

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The Progress 81 freighter fired its thrusters for 4 minutes and 34 seconds to pull the massive space station away from the path of the Cosmos-1408 fragment and raise the station’s orbit slightly.

“The crew was never in danger and the maneuver had no impact on station operations,” NASA officials wrote in an update. (opens in a new tab). “Without the maneuver, it was predicted that the fragment could have passed about half a mile from the station.”

Cosmos 1408 was a Soviet Tselina-D satellite focused on electronics and signals intelligence launched in 1982 from Russia’s Plesetsk cosmodrome, according to a NASA report (opens in a new tab).

On November 15, 2021, the satellite (which was no longer functional) was intentionally destroyed by Russia during an anti-satellite missile test which created approximately 1,500 pieces of orbital debris. Astronauts on the space station were forced into shelter Nov. 15 due to concerns about the debris, which could pose a hazard to the space station and other spacecraft for years to come, it said. experts.

Email Tariq Malik at [email protected] or follow him @tariqjmalik. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and instagram.

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