Friday, November 06, 2009

Space Debris Threatens Space Station And Its Crew

BLOGGER UPDATE, 4:13 PM: NASA TV will provide live commentary starting at 10:30 p.m. to update the public on the close approach of space debris tonight at the International Space Station. You can watch live here in The Flame Trench. Click the NASA TV box on the right side of this page to launch our NASA TV viewer, and be sure to refresh this page for updates. The time of closest approach is 10:48 p.m.

BLOGGER UPDATE: 2:55 PM: The six men and women on the International Space Station will board two separate Russian Soyuz lifeboats at the outpost tonight so they can evacuate the complex in the unlikely event a piece of space debris being tracked by ground controllers collides with the station. The astronauts will board the Soyuz between 10:15 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. The debris is expected to come within one-third of a mile of the station at 10:48 p.m.

Six astronauts and cosmonauts aboard the International Space Station will be ready to climb into Soyuz lifeboats for a potential evacuation tonight if a piece of space junk being tracked by flight controllers collides with the outpost.

NASA flight commentator Kelly Humphries said a collision is highly unlikely. Nonetheless, the crew was briefed on the unidentified piece of debris, which is expected to come within one-third of a mile of the station around 10:48 p.m. EST.

You can check for updates HERE

Micrometeorite and Orbital Debris, known at NASA as MMOD, poses the greatest of all risks to the International Space Station, and crews periodically have to shelter in Soyuz lifeboats when debris makes close approaches to the outpost. Russian Progress spacecraft thrusters also can be ignited to perform avoidance maneuvers. But the preparation for those maneuvers take time and Humphries said it is too late in this case.

U.S. Space Command tracks thousands of objects in space and warns NASA when debris is expected to make close approaches to the station or orbiting shuttles.

Read more about that HERE or HERE

ABOUT THE IMAGE: Click to enlarge the NASA image of the International Space Station. You can also click the enlarged image to get an even bigger, more detailed view. The shot was taken by the crew of STS-128 pilot Kevin Ford guided shuttle Discovery on a flyaround of the outpost after he and the STS-128 crew departed the complex.

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