NASA boosts International Space Station’s orbit to avoid unknown space debris

NASA boosts International Space Station’s orbit to avoid unknown space debris
International Space Station. (Photo by NASA via Getty Images) (NASA)

ORLANDO, Fla. — NASA said Tuesday afternoon that the crew of the International Space Station moved to a Soyuz spacecraft while unknown space debris passed the ISS.

Johnson Space Center flight controllers and the U.S. Space Command were tracking the debris that was projected to pass within 1.39 kilometers of the Space Station.

“Out of an abundance of caution, the Expedition 63 crew will relocate to their Soyuz spacecraft until the debris has passed by the station,” the agency said in a statement.

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Officials said an avoidance maneuver had been scheduled for 6:21 p.m., the time of closest approach.

But NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine tweeted the following at 5:25 p.m.: “Maneuver Burn complete. The astronauts are coming out of safe haven.”

NASA said it worked with Russian flight controllers to boost the Space Station’s orbit to avoid the debris. The 150-second reboost happened at 5:19 p.m.

Officials said the maneuver raised the station’s orbit out of the predicted path of the debris.

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

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