- Debris from a Russian anti-satellite weapons test threatened to collide with the International Space Station.
- The November 2021 test destroyed the Soviet-era Cosmos 1408 satellite, sending debris through space.
- The International Space Station regularly conducts avoidance maneuvers to dodge such debris.
The International Space station had to conduct an avoidance maneuver on Thursday to avoid being hit by space debris from a Russian anti-satellite weapons test.
In November 2021, Russia conducted an anti-satellite weapons test which destroyed the Soviet-era Cosmos 1408 satellite and launched more than 1,500 pieces of debris through space. Pieces of that debris passed near the ISS this week, prompting the avoidance maneuver.
“The crew was never in any danger and the maneuver had no impact on station operations,” read a statement released by NASA about the avoidance maneuver. “Without the maneuver, it was predicted that the fragment could have passed within around a half-mile from the station.”
The ISS conducts such avoidance maneuvers to swerve around space debris on a fairly regular basis, including incidents in November and December of last year. While collisions with debris the size of a baseball could kill astronauts on board, collisions with smaller debris have also caused damage to the station.
Last year an unknown piece of debris struck the robotic arm of the space station, puncturing a hole through it. In 2016, a small piece of space junk roughly the size of an eyelash caused a chip in the glass dome of the station.
The European Space Agency estimates there are more than a million pieces of potentially damaging debris in orbit.