The International Space Station had to fire its thrusters this week to ensure it avoided space junks in orbit around the Earth.
At 8:25 p.m. ET Monday, the station fired its thrusters for five minutes and five seconds in what NASA called a “predetermined debris avoidance maneuver,” launching one of the former Russian satellites. Increased distance from department.
NASA says the maneuver increased the ISS’s altitude by 0.2 to 0.8 miles. Without movement, the satellite debris would have reached within about three miles of the space station.
The snippet in question was from the Russian Cosmos 1408 satellite. According to NASA, Russia destroyed it with her November 2021 missile, creating 1,500 pieces. U.S. officials have said hundreds of thousands more fragments will be generated over the next few years, blaming anti-satellite missile tests.
Space debris is a big problem. There are millions of debris around the Earth, most of which come from satellite explosions and collisions. Also, when objects collide with each other, even smaller debris can be created.
According to NASA, there are about 100 million pieces larger than 1 mm, about 500,000 objects with diameters between 1 and 10 cm, and 25,000 pieces larger than 10 cm.
Space junk could threaten weather forecasts and GPS
Space debris is a particular threat to satellites, as are the services they provide, such as weather forecasts and GPS.
“It’s especially dangerous for the United States because it’s probably the most space-dependent major power,” Saadia Pekkanen, director of the Space Law, Data and Policy Program at the University of Washington, said in an interview with NPR. rice field. Earlier this year. “If anything happens to these satellites, compared to other great powers, it will affect America’s civil, commercial and military capabilities.”
Due to the speed at which objects move in their orbits, even very small pieces can be dangerous. Average impact speeds are typically 22,000 miles per hour, but can reach 33,000 miles per hour.
Debris within about 375 miles above the surface typically returns to Earth within a few years. But if it’s orbiting a distance of 500 miles or more, it could be hundreds or thousands of years before it falls.
The International Space Station moves about once a year to keep dangerous debris out of the way. According to NASA, critical parts of the station can withstand impacts from objects up to 1 cm. The agency did not specify the size of the Cosmos 1408 fragment that posed the hazard.
Although there are no international binding rules on how to control and prevent debris growth in space, the United States, Russia, China, Japan, France, and the European Space Agency have all issued guidelines. The main thing is to design and operate new spacecraft in a way that does not exacerbate the problem. New techniques are also being tested that attempt to remove debris that is already there.