Space junk flies at 1.8 km distance from orbital outpost

International Space Station

MOSCOW: A piece of space junk flew at a distance of 1.8 km from the International Space Station (ISS), Russia’s State Space Corporation Roscosmos announced.

“According to the data of Russian specialists, an uncatalogued piece of space debris flew at a distance of 1.8 km from the International Space Station at around 4:15 p.m. Moscow time,” the statement says.

It was highly unlikely that the orbit paths of the orbital outpost and the space junk would intersect and, therefore, there was no need for the ISS to conduct an avoidance manoeuvre, the Russian space agency explained.

Roscosmos Chief Dmitry Rogozin said on Wednesday that the space object dubbed Unknown would pass by the orbital outpost at a distance of 4.8 km. He stressed that Roscosmos agreed with the US side only in the assessment of the near-miss distance.

“We do not confirm the threat and continue monitoring the situation,” he explained.

Roscosmos later specified that the minimum distance between the International Space Station and the piece of space junk that might fly close to it had narrowed to 1.5 km from its earlier predicted figure of 4.6 km.

The Russian space agency said earlier that the probability for the space debris to collide with the ISS was zero and no orbit adjustment of the station was required.

Head of the Information Analytical Center at the Central Research Institute of Machine-Building (TsNIIMash, part of the space agency Roscosmos) Igor Bakaras earlier said that Russia’s Automated Warning System of Hazardous Situations in near-Earth Space registered 220 space junk near-misses with the International Space Station in 2020.

The space station’s orbit had to be adjusted twice in 2020 to avoid a collision with space junk, he added.