Station Boosts Orbit to Avoid Space Debris

The International Space Station
The International Space Station is pictured orbiting Earth in October of 2018.

Using the ISS Progress 75 thrusters and with NASA and Russian flight controllers working in tandem, the International Space Station conducted a 150-second reboost Tuesday afternoon at 5:19 p.m. EDT to avoid a possible conjunction with an unknown piece of space debris. Because of the late notification of the possible conjunction, the three Expedition 63 crew members were directed to move to the Russian segment of the station to be closer to their Soyuz MS-16 spacecraft as part of the safe haven procedure out of an abundance of caution. At no time was the crew in any danger.

The maneuver raised the station’s orbit out of the predicted path of the debris, which was estimated to come within 1.39 kilometers of the station with a time of closest approach of 6:21 p.m. EDT.

Once the avoidance maneuver was completed, the crew reopened hatches between the U.S. and Russian segments and resumed their regular activities.

5 thoughts on “Station Boosts Orbit to Avoid Space Debris”

  1. How often do debris avoidance situations arise? Does placing the several small satbots into orbits that possibly might deviate, increase the chances of possible collisions now and the future?

    1. The space station has conducted 26 debris avoidance maneuvers since 1999. When the station deploys small satellites, they are released at an angle projecting them to a safe distance preventing re-contact with the station.

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