Chicago (IL) – Is it a pure accident that the International Space Station (ISS) could have been hit by debris in space for the third time in just over a week or is it a new reality that astronauts have to deal with in the future? According to NASA, the station crew had to change the orbit to avoid a possible collision with space junk.
This latest incident involved a piece of debris, estimated to have been about 4 inches in size, that could have struck the ISS and the space shuttle Discovery that is docked to it. Shuttle Cmdr. Lee Archambault used the shuttle’s steering jets to adjust the position of Discovery and the space station as a result. Additional drag slowed the ISS and its pace around Earth by half a foot per second, which lowered the orbit and created a greater distance between the ISS and the believed course of the debris.
It was the third time in little more than a week that space junk has come close enough to the ISS to pose a potential risk to the crew and the shuttle. Early last week, a piece of a non-operational Russian satellite came close to the station and just before that, the ISS crew had to seek shelter in the station’s Soyuz TMA-13 Capsule – to prepare for a possible impact with an old rocket engine.
At least for now, it seems to become a routine for NASA as well as astronauts to deal with space pollution.