Astronauts return to ISS as threat passed

March 13th, 2009 - 5:19 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, March 13 (Xinhua) Astronauts returned to the International Space Station (ISS) after briefly taking refuge in Soyuz capsule due to a collision threat from the flying debris Thursday, the US space agency NASA said.
“The debris threat to the International Space Station has passed,” NASA said in a statement.

Eighteen crewmembers returned to the ISS after being notified all clear at 1645 GMT, NASA said. They (members) took refuge for 11 minutes in the Soyuz escape capsule, it said.

The crew took precautionary measures due to space debris that has been within the range where a collision was possible, NASA said. The news of close approach (debris) came too late for flight controllers to coordinate an avoidance maneuver.

Crewmembers entered their Soyuz TMA-13 capsule and soft-locked the hatches to undock from the space station in case the debris damage it.

The closure of the hatches ensures the safety of the crew and ability to quickly depart the station. A collision would have caused depressurisation in the space station.

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