On Monday, astronauts from the International Space Station (ISS) had to get to safety aboard their transport ship when the station drove uncomfortably close to a field of debris in orbit. According to , US Space Command began tracking space debris in the early hours of the morning. The situation called for the station to pass the rubble field every 90 minutes, which forced the crew members to close and reopen several compartments several times during the day. The four American, one German and two Russian astronauts on board the ISS must remain on alert for the next few days.
“Thank you for a crazy but well-coordinated day, we really appreciated all the situational awareness you gave us,” US astronaut Mark Vande Hei told NASA Mission Control before he and the other crew members on board at 12 o’clock PM EST went to bed. “It was certainly a great way to bond as a crew as we started our very first day of work in space.” Four of the astronauts arrived at the station late last week.
The US State Department confirms and condemns that Russia conducted an anti-satellite weapons (ASAT) test in low earth orbit.
Full explanation: pic.twitter.com/2WIUuWV6Mh
– Michael Sheetz (@thesheetztweetz) November 15, 2021
Neither NASA nor the US government have said what created the debris field that put the ISS at risk. Later in the day, however, the U.S. State Department condemned a Russian missile test that destroyed one of the country’s own satellites and created more than 1,500 trackable debris in orbit. “The test will significantly increase the risk for astronauts and cosmonauts on the International Space Station as well as for other manned space activities,” said State Department spokesman Ned Price. “Russia’s dangerous and irresponsible behavior threatens the long-term sustainability of space and clearly shows that Russia’s claims to oppose the armament of space are insincere and hypocritical.”
The State Department said the US would work with its allies to respond to Russia’s act. Per Reuters, the country has not yet commented on the incident.
Together with their partners, NASA and the Russian space agency Roskosmos often move the International Space Station to avoid incoming space debris. They did so last week when the station was threatened by fragments from a Chinese satellite that was destroyed in a 2007 missile test.
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