Story at a glance

  • The orbit of the ISS was adjusted using thrusters from the Progress MS-19 cargo ship, which is docked to the orbiting laboratory.
  • The station’s orbit dropped by more than 1,000 feet to provide plenty of room to avoid debris from an old U.S. rocket.
  • The space around Earth is becoming increasingly crowded with satellites, used rocket parts and other materials left behind by humans.

The International Space Station (ISS) conducted a maneuver early Friday to avoid collision with a piece of debris from a U.S. rocket, according to Russian space agency Roscosmos.

The orbit of the ISS was adjusted using thrusters from the Progress MS-19 cargo ship, which is docked to the orbiting laboratory. 

The station’s orbit dropped by more than 1,000 feet to provide plenty of room to avoid debris from an old Pegasus rocket that was launched in 1994. 

“Correction of the ISS orbit altitude to avoid ‘space debris’ has been performed,” the Russian space agency tweeted Friday

“For this, the engines of the ProgressMS18 ship were used. Within 160.9 seconds, the station’s orbit altitude decreased by 310 meters.” 


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The maneuver occurred just one day after NASA astronauts completed a spacewalk outside the ISS to replace a faulty antenna. The mission was previously postponed due to the threat of orbiting debris. 

The space around Earth is becoming increasingly crowded with satellites, used rocket parts and other materials left behind by humans. More than 27,000 pieces of space junk are currently being tracked by the Department of Defense’s global Space Surveillance Network (SSN) sensors to avoid collisions, according to NASA. 

A Russian anti-satellite missile test conducted in mid-November has appeared to make the situation worse. The test added more than 1,500 pieces of sizable space junk to Earth’s orbit. 


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Published on Dec 03, 2021