The crew on the International Space Station had to take cover after a piece of space debris came within one mile of the station. Astronaut Chris Cassidy and cosmonauts Anatoli Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner huddled in the Russian segment of the station for about an hour as NASA and Russian flight controllers fired the thrusters on the ISS Progress 75, which is docked to the station. The burn lasted for two-and-a-half minutes and lifted the station out of the path of the fast-moving piece of space junk.
"The maneuver raised the station's orbit out of the predicted path of the debris, which was estimated to come within [0.86 miles] of the station with a time of closest approach of 6:21 p.m. EDT," NASA said in a statement.
Officials said the crew was never in any danger and resumed their regular activities after the piece of debris passed by the station.
Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, said that the debris was from a Japan's H-2A F40 rocket, which broke up into 77 pieces last year.
This is not the first time that International Space Station has had to shift its orbit to avoid space debris. NASA said it is happening more frequently as the amount of debris orbiting the planet continues to grow. NASA said they have conducted emergency maneuvers to avoid space debris 25 times between 1999 and 2018. In 2020, the station has been forced to move three times to avoid space debris.
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