The International Space Station had to move to dodge space junk

By | 26/10/2022

The International Infinite Station had to movement to dodge space junk

The International Space Station.jpg
The International Space Station is pictured from the SpaceX Coiffure Dragon Attempt on Nov. 8, 2021. On Monday, the ISS had to fire its thrusters to avert space junk. NASA Johnson Space Center via Flickr Creative Commons

The International Space Station had to burn down its thrusters this week to make certain it avoided infinite junk in orbit effectually Earth.

The station fired its thrusters for 5 minutes and 5 seconds in what NASA called a “Pre-Adamant Debris Avoidance Maneuver” at eight:25 p.m. ET Monday to increment its distance from a piece of what used to be a Russian satellite.

NASA says the maneuver increased the ISS’ distance between 0.2 and 0.viii of a mile. Without the move, the satellite debris would have come within about iii miles of the space station.

The fragment in question was from Russia’due south Creation 1408 satellite. Russia destroyed information technology with a missile in November 2021, creating 1,500 pieces of droppings, according to NASA. U.South. officials condemned the anti-satellite missile exam, saying it would create hundreds of thousands more pieces of debris in the coming years.

Space junk is a major problem: There are millions of pieces of droppings circling Globe, most of information technology originating from satellite explosions and collisions. And when objects collide with each other, they can create even smaller pieces of debris.

Pieces larger than a millimeter number nigh 100 million, while objects betwixt 1 cm and x cm in bore number most 500,000, and 25,000 pieces of debris larger than 10 cm are known to exist, NASA says.

Space junk tin can threaten atmospheric condition forecasting and GPS

Space junk poses a special threat to satellites, and in turn, services satellites provide such every bit weather condition forecasting and GPS.

“It is of particular gamble to the Usa because the Us is probably the most infinite-dependent power around,” said Saadia Pekkanen, director of the Space Constabulary, Information and Policy program at the University of Washington, in an interview with NPR earlier this year. “Relative to other powers, if anything happens to those satellites, it does touch on the civilian, commercial and military capabilities of the United States.”

Even very small pieces tin can be dangerous because of the speeds at which objects are traveling in orbit. Average impact speed is usually 22,000 mph, but tin can exist as high every bit 33,000 mph.

Debris at altitudes within almost 375 miles from the Earth’due south surface will usually fall back to Earth within several years. Just if information technology’due south circling at 500 miles or more out, it volition likely take hundreds or thousands of years for it to come up down.

The International Space Station moves about once a year to go out of the way of dangerous debris. Critical parts of the station can withstand impact of objects as large as 1 cm, according to NASA. The agency didn’t specify the size of the Creation 1408 fragment that posed a danger.

At that place are no international binding rules on how to manage and preclude the growth of droppings in space, but the U.S., Russia, People’s republic of china, Nihon, French republic and the European Space Agency have all issued guidelines. Chief among them involves designing and operating new spacecraft in a style that won’t make the trouble worse. There are too new technologies being tested to try to remove debris already out at that place.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more than, visit

James Doubek is an associate editor and reporter for NPR. He oft covers breaking news for and NPR’s hourly newscast. In 2018, he reported feature stories for NPR’s business organisation desk-bound on topics including electric scooters, cryptocurrency, and modest business owners who lost out when Amazon made a bargain with Apple tree.