A satellite blown up by Russia forces Nasa to bypass the ISS to avoid debris

THE INTERNATIONAL space station had to dodge a Russian space junk over the weekend.

The ISS needed a “reboost maneuver” Saturday morning, according to CBS space reporter William Harwood.

The ISS orbits about 250 miles above Earth


The ISS orbits about 250 miles above EarthPhoto credit: Reuters

The last-minute evasive maneuver was to avoid a possible collision with debris left behind by a space rocket test conducted by Russia last year.

It’s the latest in a series of incidents in which space debris has forced astronauts into action.

Since Russia conducted the anti-satellite missile test in November, calls for monitoring and regulating space debris have been raised.

The blast created an orbiting debris field that US officials said would pose a hazard to space activity for years.

“The ISS astronauts were informed this afternoon that a reboost maneuver is planned for Saturday morning.” Harwood tweeted.

He added that the change in direction was intended to “improve downstream trajectory planning and avoid a possible close encounter with a piece of Russian ASAT debris.”

Space debris consists of discarded launch vehicles or spacecraft parts floating around in space.

The amount of debris in Earth’s orbit is increasing. Each piece risks colliding with satellites or the ISS.

Nasa and Roscosmos are silent about the last change of direction on Saturday. The Sun has contacted Nasa for comment.

Speaking of emergency maneuvers, space expert Daniel Porras the extent of Russia’s debris problem.

“Once again, debris from Russia’s ASAT test will come sufficiently close to the ISS to warrant a maneuver,” tweeted Porras, who works with the Secure World Foundation, a group dedicated to strengthening cooperation among spacefaring nations.

“This means the debris will go into a secure ‘pizza box’ measuring 50km x 50km x 1km.”

It’s one of several hand-to-hand fights the orbiting space lab has had with debris in recent months.

On December 3, the ISS had to avoid a fragment of a US rocket launched in 1994.

Days earlier, space debris had forced Nasa to postpone a spacewalk to replace a defective antenna on the ISS.

In November, the ISS performed a brief maneuver to avoid a fragment from a defunct Chinese satellite.

Experts have raised concerns about the amount of debris now clogging Earth’s orbit.

Former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen wrote in the Financial Times last year that Russia’s destruction of the satellite in November threatened to turn space into a junkyard.

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“If we don’t change course, the possibilities of space to improve our lives on Earth could remain closed for generations,” he wrote.

NASA later confirmed that the November test doubled the debris risk for the ISS.

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