International Space Station Moved To Avoid Russian Debris

22nd Jun 2022
International Space Station Moved To Avoid Russian Debris

The International Space Station was forced into a manoeuvre to avoid a collision on 16th June. The planned move occurred to avoid a piece of space debris from a satellite that was destroyed by Russia in November of 2021

Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, utilised an uncrewed cargo ship, Progress 81, which was docked at the International Space Station, to reposition the orbiting lab clear of the piece of loose material from the Cosmos 1408. They uploaded a video of the incident to Telegram, the social media platform. The defunct Soviet-era satellite was destroyed by Russia in an anti-satellite missile test toward the end of last year. 

Dmitry Rogozin, the chief of Roscosmos, wrote the following on Telegram:

“I confirm that at 22.03 Moscow time, the engines of the Russian Progress MS-20 transport cargo ship carried out an unscheduled manoeuvre to avoid a dangerous approach of the International Space Station with a fragment of the Kosmos-1408 spacecraft.”


‘The crew was never in danger’

To move the huge space station away from the trajectory of the Cosmos-1408 fragment, the Progress 81 cargo ship fired thrusters for four minutes and 34 seconds, slightly raising the orbit of the station.

NASA officials have since commented on the incident, stating: 

“The crew was never in any danger and the manoeuvre had no impact on station operations,” NASA officials wrote in an update. Without the manoeuvre, it was predicted that the fragment could have passed within around a half-mile from the station.”

Concerns over debris in the future

The anti-satellite missile test that is responsible for the debris is estimated to created 1,500 pieces of space debris. On the 15th of November, astronauts were forced to take shelter on the space station due to worries that the debris, which could pose a hazard to other spacecraft and the space station for years to come.

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