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Cosmic Debris Threatens Space StationCosmic Debris Threatens Space Station

NASA says it's too late for orbiting station to perform avoidance maneuver.

Paul McDougall

December 1, 2009

2 Min Read

Debris from a Russian Cosmos satellite is headed toward the International Space Station, posing a potential threat to the manned platform, NASA said Tuesday.

NASA said it has little data on the object, but has determined that it's closest time of approach to the ISS would be 1:19 pm EST. The space agency only detected the debris earlier in the day, leaving no time for the ISS crew to perform what's known as a Debris Avoidance Maneuver. "Due to the late notification, a Debris Avoidance Maneuver is not possible," NASA said in a statement. The agency provided no further details about the situation. The space station is currently staffed by a skeleton crew of just two astronauts, commander Jeff Williams and flight engineer Maxim Suraev. The rest of the current ISS crew, known as Expedition 21, returned to Earth early Tuesday. The crew landed their Soyuz TMA-15 spacecraft on the steppes of Kazakhstan at 2:15 a.m. EST. NASA said all three returning crew members were in good condition. Icy conditions grounded the landing support team's helicopters, so the team was forced to use all-terrain vehicles to fetch the ISS crew from the landing site. Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko, European Space Agency flight engineer Frank De Winne, and Canadian Space Agency flight engineer Robert Thirsk may have to use the ATVs for the 50 mile trip to their base in Arkalyk unless weather conditions improve, NASA said. All three astronauts had been aboard the space station for six months. They're scheduled to fly to the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center, at Star City, Russia, on Tuesday for reunions with their families and reorientation to a gravity environment. Our "A New IT Manifesto" report looks at a variety of new approaches and technologies that let IT rebels take on a whole new role, enhancing their companies' competitiveness and engaging their entire organizations more intimately with customers. Download the report here (registration required).

About the Author(s)

Paul McDougall

Editor At Large, InformationWeek

Paul McDougall is a former editor for InformationWeek.

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