Orbiting space junk passes International Space StationSeptember 5th, 2009 - 3:19 am ICT by IANS
Washington, Sep 5 (DPA) A large piece of space junk flew past the International Space Station (ISS) Friday without posing any threat, US space agency NASA said.
A piece of a European Ariane-5 rocket passed within 1.3 km of the ISS, but not close enough to pose a risk to the station or its crew.
“The flight control team is continuing to monitor that debris, but again it did pass as expected and is no concern to the orbiting complex,” said a NASA spokesperson.
NASA was monitoring the approaching 19-square-metre piece of space junk for days. The agency determined that although it was a relatively large piece, there was no danger for the station or astronauts and no avoidance manoeuvre was planned.
The rocket trash did not impact a spacewalk Thursday, during which two astronauts from the space shuttle Discovery installed a new ammonia tank used in the cooling system.
Space junk poses an impact danger for the ISS and occasionally warrants moving the station slightly to avoid a collision or placing astronauts in an evacuation capsule until the danger is past. In March, a piece of a Chinese rocket merited turning the ISS by 180 degrees to avoid a collision.
There are an estimated 13,000 pieces of space junk, according to the European Space Agency.
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