NASA spacewalk delayed due to debris threat

NASA is delaying a spacewalk that was scheduled for Tuesday after receiving a “debris notification” for the International Space Station.

NASA announced in a tweet early Tuesday morning that it received a debris notification for the International Space Station on Monday night, and was delaying the spacewalk because of “the lack of opportunity to properly assess the risk it could pose to the astronauts.”

The agency said the mission would be put on hold “until more information is available.” A new date has not yet been set.


The spacewalk was scheduled to replace a faulty antenna system at the International Space Station. Specifically, NASA was looking to remove a more than 20-year-old malfunctioning S-band radio communications antenna assembly with a new spare outside the space station, according to Reuters.

Two astronauts, Thomas Marshburn and Kayla Brown, were set to begin the mission at 7:10 a.m. Eastern time, Reuters reported. They arrived in space on a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule on Nov. 11.

On Nov. 15, however, Russia without warning conducted an anti-satellite missile test which created a debris field in low-Earth orbit, prompting crew members to take protection in their docket spaceships, according to Reuters.


NASA Administrator Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonJames Webb telescope reaches final destination a million miles from Earth Overnight Energy & Environment — Earth records its hottest years ever Global temperatures in past seven years hottest ever observed, new data show MORE wrote in a statement that he was "outraged by this irresponsible and destabilizing action."

"With its long and storied history in human spaceflight, it is unthinkable that Russia would endanger not only the American and international partner astronauts on the ISS, but also their own cosmonauts. Their actions are reckless and dangerous, threatening as well the Chinese space station and the taikonauts on board," Nelson added.

Dana Weigel, the NASA deputy manager of the International Space Station program, said the debris has since cleared, according to Reuters, but the agency has discerned that fragments remaining in the atmosphere pose a “slightly elevated” background risk for the space station as a whole, and a 7 percent increased chance of the spacesuits of astronauts conducting the walk getting punctured.

NASA on Tuesday said the International Space Station’s schedule and operations have the ability to “easily accommodate the delay of the spacewalk.”