ISS just had to swerve out of the way of space junk left over from 1994

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The International Space Station had to dodge space junk in orbit, demonstrating the increased risk to the orbiting station and small satellites from the spread of space waste in low Earth orbit.

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According to Reuters, Roscosmos reported that the International Space Station (ISS) descended just over 300 meters for nearly three minutes to avoid a piece of leftover space junk from the 1994 US space launch before returning to its typical orbit. .

The news comes from Dmitry Rogozin, the head of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, and marks the latest in a series of events involving the rapidly growing cloud of space junk around the planet.


Earlier this week, NASA had to postpone a spacewalk to fix an antenna on the ISS over concerns about space debris, and the ISS was forced to move out of the way just last month with a piece of an incompetent Chinese satellite. Had to happen.

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Russia also conducted an anti-satellite missile test last month that destroyed a defunct Russian satellite, forcing astronauts aboard the ISS to lock themselves in docked Soyuz and SpaceX Dragon crew capsules for safety lay as the ISS passed the debris field.

Russia is not the only one to have recently conducted an anti-satellite missile test. In early 2019, India launched an anti-satellite missile test that created a debris field that is now in orbit around the planet.

The US is also not innocent, as it shot down a failed satellite in 2008 citing security reasons, while China shot down one of its own satellites in 2007.

And like in today’s phenomenon, space launches often leave behind booster rocket fragments, fairings and other debris that usually fall back to Earth and burn up in the atmosphere, but not always. This debris could remain in orbit, which would remain a serious threat for decades to come.

Space junk could keep humanity out of space for generations

To understand why space junk is such a concern, you need to know how fast things go uphill.

According to NASA, objects in orbit travel at speeds of up to 17,500 mph (about 28,160 km/h), and since nearly all space junk is made of metal, any sort of collision is inherently dangerous.

If the objects are traveling at the same speed, the relative speed of the collision may be much lower, but turning the ISS into a piece of an old satellite the size of an air conditioner at 75 mph (about 120 km/h) will still More is enough to cause serious damage, and probably even threaten the integrity of the ISS.

Even small pieces of debris can pose a serious threat. There are about 23,000 pieces of debris in orbit that are the size of a softball or larger, and can easily pierce a hole when struck by a softball-sized piece of metal debris at 200 mph (about 320 km/h). can. a spacecraft or satellite.

In fact, it has already done so for several satellites, resulting in the production of even more space debris, leading to a widespread proliferation of space debris, which many fear is known as Kessler syndrome.

In this scenario, space junk inevitably spirals out of control so much that it regains its momentum, destroying an increasing number of satellites that only amplify the high-velocity debris cloud to the point where It also becomes dangerous to operate in low Earth orbit.

Half a million pieces of rubble are the size of a marble or larger, and about 100 million pieces of rubble are 1 mm or larger. According to NASA, several spacecraft windows had to be replaced to make up for damage caused by debris, which was later determined to be a piece of paint.

“Indeed, millimeter-sized orbital debris represents the highest mission-termination risk for most robotic spacecraft operating in low Earth orbit,” NASA says. If Low Earth Orbit becomes a swirling storm of metal shrapnel moving at 17,500 mph, attempting to pass through it becomes impossible.

As you climb into low Earth orbit, you have to accelerate, so essentially any type of spacecraft or satellite that you try to orbit in a post-Kesler atmosphere will cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. It would have to do so under the bullet-hell of the wreckage traveling to. Miles an hour faster than whatever you’re trying to put into orbit.

if He Then is destroyed and torn apart by space debris in the process, you just create more space debris, which you have to contend with the next time you try to put something in orbit.

After all, you can’t put anything new in the classroom other than staying dry in a rainstorm by avoiding all the raindrops. We’ll have to wait for that cloud of debris to eventually collapse and burn up in Earth’s atmosphere, a process that could take decades.

Former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogg Rasmussen wrote in the Financial Times on Thursday that regulation is desperately needed to keep space safe for humanity in the future.

“Unless we change course,” he writes, “the opportunities for space to improve our lives on Earth may be shut down for generations.”

  • Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak announces private space venture ‘unlike the others’

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