NASA administrator warns ISS space waste problem worsens after 3 near-collisions


The ISS used the thrusters from a freighter that was docked at the station with NASA and Russian flight controllers working in tandem to avoid colliding with an unknown piece of debris, NASA said. The debris is expected to come within a mile of the station on Tuesday at around 6:21 p.m. ET, according to NASA.

There have been three “potential conjunctions of great concern” with space debris in the past two weeks alone, and the ISS has had to maneuver three times to avoid the debris this year, NASA said.

Low Earth Orbit is an orbital space junk, according to NASA. There are millions of pieces of matter that fly, and it ranges from parts of spaceship to parts of rockets and satellites that are out of service.

The three members of the Expedition 63 crew aboard the ISS were directed to the Russian segment of the station as part of “the safe refuge procedure with extreme caution,” NASA said.

“Burn maneuver finished. The astronauts come out of a safe haven ”, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine tweeted Tuesday at 5:22 p.m. ET.
“The @Space_Station maneuvered 3 times in 2020 to avoid debris”, Bridenstine added in follow-up tweet. “In the last 2 weeks, there have been 3 very worrying potential conjunctions. Debris is getting worse! It’s time for Congress to provide @CommerceGov with the $ 15 million requested by @POTUS for the Office of Space Commerce. “

On February 11, President Trump released a budget proposal that included a request for $ 15 million for the Office of Space Commerce to be able to “meet current and future national space policy guidelines.” One of the goals of the Department of Commerce’s strategic plan is to make “improvements to the visualization and modeling of objects (including debris) in the space environment”.

No crew were injured and the U.S. and Russian segments of the station were able to resume regular operations once the maneuver was completed, NASA said.


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