Washington: The International Space Station (ISS) has successfully evaded orbital debris from a Russian anti-satellite weapons test, according to a media report.
The Russian space agency Roscosmos used an uncrewed Progress 81 cargo ship docked at the ISS to move the orbiting laboratory of a piece of space debris from the Russian satellite Cosmos 1408, Space.com reported.
“I confirm that at 22:03 Moscow time, the engines of the Russian Progress MS-20 cargo transport ship performed an unscheduled maneuver to prevent a dangerous approach of the International Space Station with a fragment of the Kosmos-1408 spacecraft” said the head of Roscosmos, Dmitry. Rogozin wrote on Telegram, according to a Google translation, using the Roscosmos designation for Progress 81.
“The crew was never in any danger and the maneuver had no impact on station operations,” NASA officials wrote in an update. “Without the maneuver, it was predicted that the fragment could have passed within a half-mile of the station.”
Cosmos 1408 was a Soviet Tselina-D satellite focused on electronic and signals intelligence launched in 1982 from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in Russia, according to a NASA report.
Russia destroyed the defunct satellite in an anti-satellite missile test in November 2021 that created approximately 1,500 pieces of orbital debris.
Space station astronauts were forced to take shelter on November 15 last year, due to concerns about space debris. Many experts have said it could pose a danger to the space station and other spacecraft for years to come.
In early May, the European Space Agency (ESA) said its Sentinel-1A Earth observation satellite narrowly escaped a “high-risk collision” from the same test that spawned more than 1,500 pieces of traceable orbital debris in the space.
Despite the fact that the Russian satellite was orbiting more than 200 km below Sentinel-1A, the energy released during its explosion pushed fragments upwards, crossing the orbit of the satellite.
As a result, the team said Sentinel-1A had to alter its orbit “by 140m to avoid collision with a piece of debris.” Although Sentinel-1A is now safe, ESA has warned against the threat due to such space debris.