NASA: Space station may have to dodge more debris

As shuttle Discovery nears space station, so does piece of a Russian satellite

NASA engineers are trying to figure out if they need to maneuver the International Space Station out of the way of another piece of space debris that is hurtling precariously close to the orbiter.

The threat to the space station and its crew of two American astronauts and one Russian cosmonaut comes just over a day before the space shuttle Discovery is scheduled to dock at the orbiter.

NASA noted that the threat to the space station, a runaway piece of a Russian satellite, is the second in less than a week. Last Thursday, the three astronauts were forced to seek shelter in the Soyuz TMA-13 Capsule that is attached to the space station when a piece of an old rocket motor flew closely past. The attached capsule serves as a "lifeboat" for the crew, and could transport them back to earth in an emergency.

NASA said the piece of the rocket motor measured a third of an inch in diameter and came within a 2.8 mile "box" of space that NASA considers a danger zone around the space station. Josh Byerly, a NASA spokesman, told Computerworld last week that even something the size of a grain of sand could do massive damage to the space station because of the high rate of speed that debris travels in space.

Bill Jeffs, a spokesman for NASA, said Monday morning that the agency had discovered last week's piece of debris too late to maneuver the space station away from its path. This time, however, there is time to maneuver the orbiter if calculations made by NASA scientists determine that moving the space station is necessary. If the space station is moved away from the debris, astronauts aboard the space shuttle will need to adjust their trajectory to make the docking Tuesday.

Jeffs added that the latest incident is not expected to delay Tuesday's docking, which is slated for 5:13 p.m. EDT.

The space debris is expected to pass within a quarter mile of the space station at 3:14 a.m. EDT on Tuesday. Jeffs said there is no correlation between the piece of debris from last week and the one threatening the space station this week. He also said dodging space debris is not generally a common occurrence for space station astronauts.

The Discovery lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center Sunday evening. The crew is scheduled to install the final set of power-generating solar arrays to the International Space Station.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags international space stationNASAdiscovery

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Sharon Gaudin

Computerworld
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?