The International Space Station (ISS) was forced to perform a maneuver to avoid a possible collision earlier this week.
Occasionally the ISS is forced to take such action to avoid potential damage, but on this occasion, instead of dodging space debris, the facility moved away from a working satellite.
The incident highlights the problem of growing congestion in near-Earth orbit amid an uptick in satellite deployments in recent years.
According to a message released by NASA, the docked cargo ship Progress 83 fired its engines for just over five minutes Monday to move the station into a slightly higher orbit, further away from an approaching Earth imaging satellite. and that it supposedly belongs to North Carolina. based on Satellogic.
About 20 minutes before Progress fired its thrusters to raise the station’s orbit, controllers were able to confirm that the satellite would pass at a distance of about 2.7 kilometers (1.7 mi) even without the altitude change. Despite the safe distance, the decision was made to proceed with the maneuver as Progress’s boosters were already engaged, a spokesperson told SpaceNews.
The space site noted that the orbit of the Satellogic satellite, along with nine others that launched at the same time in 2020, has been declining, a situation that means the ISS and other satellites operating in a similar orbit may have to perform a dodge. additional. maneuver into the future as satellites come your way.
NASA and its counterparts are constantly monitoring the orbits of satellites and large pieces of space debris near Earth, so orbital adjustments are not uncommon.
While most ISS orbital adjustments are planned on time, emergency incidents do occasionally occur. A particularly serious episode took place in 2021 when crew members had to transfer to their docked ships in the event of a severe debris cloud impact that could have forced their evacuation from the ISS. In the event, the station was spared any damage and crew members were able to safely return to the facility to continue their work.