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Astronauts take cover as space station threatens debris

International space station

International space station
Image: Roscosmos

All seven astronauts currently aboard the International Space Station are forced to hide inside their spaceships due to the sudden appearance of a cloud of debris in orbit., the source of which remains unclear.

Information is coming slowly, but we know that the ISS is currently functioning normally and that all seven crew members are healthy and safe. The crew had to take cover this morning due to the sudden appearance of a debris field in orbit. Unexplained decay The defunct Russian satellite Kosmos-1408 is currently the leading candidate for the source of an orbiting space debris cloud.

NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn, Kayla Barron and ESA astronaut Mathias Maurer take refuge in the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft docked to the ISS, while Russian cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov, Peter Dubrov and NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hey are inside the Soyuz capsule. Astronauts can use this spacecraft to safely return to Earth in the event of debris damage to the ISS.

V tweetRoskosmos reported that the crew “regularly performs operations in accordance with the flight program” and that the threatening “object” has “retired from ISS orbit.” By “object” the Russian Space Agency means a field of debris. “The station is located in the green zone,” added Roskosmos.

“Friends, we are all right!” tweeted Shkaplerov. “We are continuing to work on the program.”

Despite these assurances, work aboard the ISS will definitely not return to normal. Mission controllers constantly count down each flyby of the debris field (i.e., the closest debris field approaches the ISS). At 10:32 am ET, controllers gave NASA instructions to temporarily enter the Columbus module to complete some quick tasks and collect personal items if they had to stay inside the Dragon overnight (possible indication that this may take a while). …

At first, passes through the debris field happened about once every 93 minutes, but now they happen about once every 30-40 minutes. In an email, Harvard astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell said that: assuming that this is a debris field from a crashed satellite, “there will be a large scale of error as to whether there is a risk to the ISS, hence the caution.”

The source of the debris field remains unconfirmed, but its sudden appearance coincides with reports that Russia has tested anti-satellite weapons. V tweetGunther Krebs, physicist and editor of the Gunter’s Space Page, said the target was “an old Soviet Tselina-D SIGINT satellite called Kosmos-1408 (1982-092A), launched in 1982, which has not worked for several decades,” and that ” 14 pieces of debris were found. ” But Krebs warns: “So far, no confirmation from official sources.”

US Space forces are “aware of a debris incident in outer space” and “are working to characterize the debris field and will continue to ensure that all space powers have the information they need to maneuver satellites in the event of a collision,” tweeted space reporter Joey Roulette of the New York Times.

Today’s incident took place less than a week after the ISS had to emergency maneuver to avoid potentially dangerous space debris. In this case, it was the remnant of the Fengyun-1C meteorological satellite, which China deliberately destroyed in 2007 as part of an anti-satellite missile test. India did something similar in 2019, joining the United States, Russia, and China as countries in testing anti-satellite weapons. V 1967 UN Outer Space Treaty currently prohibits the use of weapons of mass destruction in space.

This is a developing story and we will update this article how do we find out more.

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