General, Research, Technology

Space debris nearly damaged the ISS. How did it go?

Humanity began to actively explore space atusing complex technology around the middle of the 20th century. At first, hundreds of objects were launched into low-earth orbit every year, and then thousands of different objects began to be launched. This is not only about rockets, but also about satellites and other research equipment immersed in them. Like any other technology, they have a service life and after its expiration they continue to fly around our planet as space debris... Today we are literally surroundedsmall and large portions of already unused rockets and satellites. All these debris pose a great danger to the International Space Station (ISS) located at an altitude of 408 kilometers. On the night of September 23, there was a risk of collision of the station with an unidentified space object, but the crew managed to dodge it. But what was this object and how did the station avoid a collision?

The International Space Station always runs the risk of colliding with space debris

Space debris Is a collection of old debrisspacecraft. They pose a great danger to all equipment operating in low-earth orbit. At the moment, no one knows how to get rid of this garbage.

International space station maneuver

The publication told about the situation.Science Alert. The crew of the station learned about the emergence of the danger in advance. Recall that at the moment there are American astronaut Christopher Cassidy, as well as Russian cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Wagner. They learned about the risk of collision with an unidentified object in advance and moved to the Russian compartment, closer to the Soyuz MS-16 spacecraft. In the event of a collision and a fire or other serious problem, they could quickly evacuate and fly to Earth. Fortunately, no evacuation was necessary because no accident happened.

You can always find out who is on the ISS bot on this website. There you can also listen to the negotiations of the crew members.

NASA controllers learned about the collision probability in advance. According to their calculations, the object should have flown past the station at a distance approximately 1.39 kilometers... That is, the probability of a collision was verysmall, but in such situations the crew prepares for the worst outcome of events - this is required by safety rules. Just in case, the astronauts and cosmonauts were ordered to change the station's orbit and move further away from the trajectory of the space object. Together, the crew of the station performed the maneuver using the engines of the Progress cargo ship.

At the moment, the International Space Station consists of 15 main modules

See also: Is space debris dangerous for the Earth?

Space debris hazard

As it turned out later, an unidentified objectturned out to be far from an asteroid, but space debris. The debris with the international designation 2018-084CQ turned out to be part of the second stage of the Japanese H-2A rocket. This rocket exploded in February 2019 and exploded into 75 large particles. Considering that the ISS is moving around our planet at a speed of 27,568 kilometers per hour, the collision could be violent. The size of the space object that flew past the station was not disclosed. But in a collision, it could damage solar panels or other important parts of the station.

Takeoff of the Japanese H-2A rocket

At the moment, it is known that the station's crew is alreadycame out of hiding. They continued to go about their business. Recall that the inhabitants of the space station conduct a lot of research in zero gravity. For example, they try to grow plants there and observe the reactions of various animals like mice. In between work, they are engaged in personal affairs, exercise, and so on. From time to time they have to make maneuvers like today. According to the head of NASA Jim Bridenstine (Jim Bridenstine), since the beginning of 2020, the station has been evading space objects for the third time.

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The fact that stations increasingly have to dodgefrom space debris, indicates an increase in its amount. Satellites and other orbital equipment are being launched with increasing frequency. Recall, for example, SpaceX, which in the near future wants to launch 12,000 satellites into the sky to maintain the Starlink satellite Internet. These satellites are not eternal and they will fail, after which they become another space debris. Researchers want to develop an effective way to destroy all this junk, but none of them have been proven to be effective. You can read about one of these projects in this article.

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