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

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

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.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?