ISS dodges Russian space debris
The ISS is in a new orbit following a “debris avoidance maneuver” on Monday evening, October 24, 2022. Thus, placing the station out of harm’s way before some space debris passed too close to the station for comfort. Afterwards NASA reported the event via a blog post:
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.
Thruster bursts began at 8:25 p.m. ET on October 24 (00:25 UTC on October 25). Adjustment to the orbit was minimal, NASA said:
The PDAM increased the station’s altitude by 2/10 of a mile at apogee and 8/10 of a mile at perigee and left the station in an orbit of 264.3 x 255.4 statute miles.
The concerning piece of space junk would have passed within 3 miles (5 km) of the station.
Debris left over from messy Russian anti-satellite test
According to the US Department of State, the source of the dangerous debris was Cosmos 1408. It is a defunct 2.4-ton (2,200-kilogram) spy satellite left over from the Cold War era. USSR launched Cosmos 1408 in 1982. The Russian Federation destroyed the satellite in November 2021 to demonstrate its ability to destroy vehicles in orbit.
Also, this week, Russia declared “quasi-civilian infrastructure” such as the SpaceX Starlink satellites fair targets in its war. The Ukrainian military uses the Starlink satellites to help repel Russian invaders.
Bottom line: The ISS was moved this week to avoid a piece of Russian space debris. In fact, the concerning piece of space junk would have passed within 3 miles of the station.