International Space Station Forced To Use Thrusters To Avoid Debris From Russian Anti-Satellite Test
NASA - The International Space Station was forced to ignite a thruster in order to move the space station away from debris created from a Russian anti-satellite missile test in 2021.
The anti-satellite missile test involved Russia targeting and destroying one of its own non-functioning satellites, which then generated about 1,500 pieces of space Debris in outer space.
Space Command put out a statement after the test in 2021 saying, "U.S. Space Command is aware of a debris-generating event in outer space. We are actively working to characterize the debris field and will continue to ensure all space-faring nations have the necessary information to maneuver satellites if impacted".
"We are also in the process of working with the interagency, including the State Department and NASA, concerning these reports and will provide and update in the near future".
US Space Command has said that Russia tested a direct-ascent anti-satellite, or a DA-ASAT missile which hit a Russian satellite and created a debris field of more than 1,500 pieces of trackable orbital debris in a low-orbit above earth.
US Space Command, Commander General James Dickinson said, "Russia has demonstrated a deliberate disregard for the security, safety, stability, and long-term sustainability of the space domain for all nations".
The debris created by Russia's DA-ASAT will continue to pose a threat to activities in outer space for years to come, putting satellites and space missions at risk, as well as forcing more collision avoidance maneuvers. Space activities underpin our way of life and this kind of behavior is simply irresponsible.
NASA administrator Bill Nelson put out a statement saying 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".
The missile test created around half of the debris that the Chinese DA-ASAT test in 2007 created, which was about 3,000 pieces of space debris larger than 10 centimeters.
In 2021, the crew aboard the International Space Station, or ISS had to quickly put on their spacesuits and board their spacecrafts in preparation for the possibility of the space station being hit by some of the debris according to the Russian space agency (ROSCOSMOS).
There were seven crew members in the space station at the time who awoke to instructions to "close the hatches to radial modules on the station" according to NASA.
"An additional precautionary measure of sheltering the crew was executed for two passes through or near the vicinity of the debris cloud" NASA said in a statement.
"The crew members made their way into their spacecraft shortly before 2 a.m. EST and remained there until about 4 a.m. The space station is passing through or near the cloud every 90 minutes, but the need to shelter for only the second and third passes of the event was based on a risk assessment made by the debris office and ballistics specialists at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston" NASA's statement said after the incident in 2021.
The latest incident on October 26th had the crew of the International Space Station fire its thrusters for 5 minutes, 5 seconds in order to maneuver around the debris created from the destroyed Cosmos 1408 satellite, NASA said in a statement.
The statement said, “This evening, the International Space Station’s Progress 81 thrusters fired for 5 minutes, 5 seconds in a Pre-Determined Debris Avoidance Maneuver (PDAM) to provide the complex an extra measure of distance away from the predicted track of a fragment of Russian Cosmos 1408 debris".
U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price made a statement in 2021, after the incident that said the test will "significantly increase the risk to astronauts and cosmonauts on the International Space Station, as well as to other human spaceflight activities".
Price also said that, "Russia's claims of opposing the weapons and weaponization of space are disingenuous and hypocritical".
"I don't want to get to get ahead of specific measures that we may pursue, that our partners and allies may pursue, but we are going to continue to make very clear that we won't tolerate this kind of activity," price stated during a 2021 State Department briefing.
Price said that the United States wanted to "make very clear why this is so dangerous, why this is so, such irresponsible conduct on the part of a nation state".
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