ISS dodges space junk from satellite Russia blew up

Ground crew raised orbit and carried on like a boss

NASA says the International Space Station (ISS) this week transitioned to a higher orbit to dodge debris from a Russian satellite. The agency spotted the junk and calculated it would fly within three miles of the ISS, a proximity that was too close for comfort.

The space station's ground team fired up the thrusters on Progress 81, the Russian cargo craft docked to the station, for five minutes and five seconds in a Pre-Determined Debris Avoidance Maneuver (PDAM) and increased the station's altitude by 0.2 miles at apogee and 0.8 miles at perigee.

NASA said the maneuver had no impact on station operations.

The debris was identified by NASA as former Russian satellite Cosmos 1408, a known instigator that's caused trouble before.

Its destiny as space junk was sealed in November 2021 when Russia destroyed the 2,200kg intelligence satellite, launched in 1982, during a missile technology test.

At the time, the US Department of State condemned the experiment for endangering "human spaceflight activities." Seven astronauts were onboard the ISS at the time of Cosmos 1408's destruction. NASA Administrator Bill Nelson called the missile test and subsequent cloud of shrapnel "irresponsible" and "destabilizing."

Russian space agency Roscosmos, a long-time contributor to the ISS, warned in August that its partnership may end sometime between 2025 and 2030 as the country seeks to build its own space station. Roscosmos has said it will have something ready by 2028.

NASA and non-Russian ISS partners have indicated they will extend ISS operations to 2030. ®

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