ISS raises orbit to avoid space debris

Space debris populations seen from outside geosynchronous orbit.

Space debris populations seen from outside geosynchronous orbit.

The International Space Station (ISS) has completed an emergency maneuver to avoid possible collision with space debris, the Russian Mission Control Center said Thursday.

The orbit of the ISS, corrected with the engines of the Progress M-16M cargo spacecraft docked to the station, was raised by 0.5 km to a range from 408.4 km in perigee to 429 km in apogee, in order to stagger the defunct U.S. satellite Iridium-33.

The correction began at 03:08 Moscow time (2308 GMT Wednesday) and lasted for 406 seconds.

According to experts’ calculations, the remnants of Iridium-33, which circle the Earth on various unstable orbits, could approach the ISS six times on Thursday.

NASA lost control over the 600 kg Iridium after it collided with the 1,000 kg Russian Cosmos-2251 military satellite in 2009.

The first-ever collision of two spacecraft resulted in a cloud consisted of several hundred tiny parts of both satellites orbiting the Earth on unstable orbits ranging between 500 and 1,300 km from the ground.

Source: 01 Nov 2012


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