International Space Station Forced to Drop 1000 Feet to Avoid Collision with Decades-Old Space Junk

By B.N. Frank

Earlier this year, it was reported that insurance companies have become less willing to insure satellites due to collision risks.  Of course, warnings about space junk from satellites and similar vehicles are nothing new (see 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8).  The recently “smashed” Russian satellite situation highlighted risks again (see 1, 2) and on Friday another space junk collision “close call” was reported.

From Newser:

ISS Takes Unexpected Ride in ‘Wake-Up Call for Mankind’

International Space Station was forced to drop 1K feet to avoid collision with space junk

(Newser) – Astronauts on the International Space Station took a 1,000-foot plunge on Friday after a piece of decades-old space junk threatened to collide with them. Dmitry Rogozin, who heads up Russia’s Roscosmos space agency, says the unscheduled three-minute “evasion maneuver” was set in motion due to space debris, which typically consists of pieces of spacecraft that break off or launch vehicles that were abandoned in space, floating around and posing a potential hazard to the ISS or satellites, per the Guardian. In this case, the space junk was a fragment from a US Pegasus rocket that went into orbit in 1994.

Per CBS News, Roscosmos explained on Twitter that Friday’s ISS maneuver was achieved by the Progress MS-18 cargo ship docked at the space station firing its thrusters for 161 seconds, which lowered the space station’s position just enough to avoid the debris. “The PDAM burn was good,” flight controllers at Houston’s Johnson Space Center assured the ISS astronauts early this morning, using the abbreviation for “predetermined debris avoidance maneuver.”

The existence of space junk can be a touchy subject, as evidenced by an essay published in the Financial Times on Thursday by former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who slammed Russia for destroying a satellite in an anti-satellite missile test last month, creating even more debris, per Reuters. “The test should … act as a wake-up call to mankind as we risk turning Earth’s celestial neighborhood into a junkyard,” he wrote. “Unless we change course, the opportunities of space to improve our lives on Earth could be closed off for generations.”

NASA had to put off an antenna fix earlier in the week due to similar space junk. It’s not clear where that debris originated from. Despite the unplanned maneuver, Rogozin says that a Soyuz MS-20 set for takeoff on Wednesday in Kazakhstan will still be able to dock at the ISS on schedule. (Read more International Space Station stories.)

Despite risks, warnings, actual occurrences, and “close calls”, The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) continues to approve the launching of tens of thousands more satellites and similar vehicles launching in the U.S. to blast biologically and environmentally harmful 5G and Wi-Fi at Earth (see 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18).  This has become increasingly controversial – even for some of the companies deploying them.  In fact, SpaceX has complained that Boeing satellites could reduce the quality of U.S. internet connections from their company’s satellites.  In the UK, a government agency has expressed concerns that Starlink and OneWeb satellites could interfere with each other.

Additionally, legal action has been taken against the FCC for approving satellite deployment (see 1, 2, 3, 4).  In March 2021, a petition was also filed asking the agency to pause deployment due to various safety risks.

Activist Post reports regularly about satellites and other unsafe technology.  For more information, visit our archives and the following websites:

Image: Pixabay

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