Thursday, 12 March 2009

Space debris forces ISS evacuation

Astronauts were forced to evacuate the International Space Station (ISS) for a brief period after a piece of space debris got too close.

They left the ISS on a Russian escape spaceship, Nasa spokeswoman Laura Rochon said.

Russian Space Command said the debris - believed to be an old motor that may once have been a part of the ISS - had passed and the station and the crew were in no danger and had returned.

The current crew of the space station includes US astronauts Michael Fincke and Sandra Magnus and Russian Yury Lonchakov.

Space junk is considered a threat to the 800 or so commercial and military satellites estimated to be operating in space as well as to the ISS. There are more than 18,000 pieces of debris catalogued.

Russian mission control said that the evacuation lasted only about ten minutes.

"The crew have returned to the station. They are in absolutely no danger and the debris has already passed by the station," a spokesman for Russia's mission control said.

"They didn't even close the hatch between the station and the Soyuz and sat there for only about ten minutes. We do not know where the space debris was from," he said.

The incident occurred only a day after Nasa postponed until Sunday the scheduled launch of the space shuttle Discovery on a mission to the space station, blaming a hydrogen leak during fuelling for the postponement.

The purpose of the shuttle flight - the first of five planned for this year - is to deliver a final set of solar power panels to the space station and transport Japan's first astronaut to serve as a member of the live-aboard station crew.

Nicked From: Yahoo News


  1. It is quite scary how much junk is up there!

  2. Interesting article - didn't even know this was going on.