Friday, March 13, 2009

A close call for the ISS

Shortly after the collision of Iridium 33 and Kosmos 2251, the news agencies are buzzing with a close call of the International Space Station and a piece of space debris. Astro/Kosmonauts in the station shortly evacuated to their Soyuz re-entry capsule for safety reasons.

The piece of space debris in question was 93-032D (25090), a piece of a PAM-D rocket engine, part of the launch of the Navstar 32 GPS satellite on 13 May 1993. It is small, but even small can be lethal to the ISS. The nominal orbits for the ISS and the space debris piece have it pass as close as within 2.4 km of each other at 12 March, 16:39:41 UTC. The close encounter occurred over the southern Atlantic, near the southernwest coast of Africa.

(click images to enlarge)

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