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US satellite fragment poses no threat to ISS

October 31, 2012, 15:42 UTC+3
Ballisticians, having calculated the trajectory of the movement of the US satellite Iridium 33 at the moment see no need for an extraordinary correction of the ISS orbit
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MOSCOW, October 31 (Itar-Tass) — The fragment of the US satellite so far poses no threat to the International Space Station (ISS), the Mission Control Centre (MCC) outside Moscow told Itar-Tass on Wednesday.

"Ballisticians, having calculated the trajectory of the movement of the US satellite Iridium 33 at the moment see no need for an extraordinary correction of the ISS orbit," the MCC specified.

NASA reported earlier that the ISS orbit can be adjusted due to the potential threat of a collision of the orbital complex with a fragment of the American communications satellite. According to the US space agency, a small fragment is approaching the station, and it is difficult to predict its exact flight path.

“The debris, a piece of a communications satellite named Iridium 33, is a small object with movements that are difficult to predict. To be prudent, Mission Control (in Houston, Texas) is preparing for a possible adjustment to the station’s orbit if tracking indicates that the debris could become a threat to the station,” NASA specified.

The manoeuvre, the agency added, “would be performed using the ISS Progress 48 thrusters about 9 hours after the planned 9:40 a.m. (17:40 MSK) Progress 49 (Progress M-17M) docking to the aft station’s Zvezda service module.”

In February 2009, the Iridium 33 satellite collided in orbit with Russia’s military communications satellite Kosmos-2251. The destroyed spacecraft produced 600 pieces of debris more than 5 cm in diameter each and a few thousands of smaller fragments. The 2009 satellite collision was the first accidental hypervelocity collision between two intact artificial satellites in Earth orbit. The collision occurred at 16:56 UTC on February 10, 2009, at 789 kilometres above the Taymyr Peninsula in Siberia, when Iridium 33 and Kosmos-2251 collided. The satellites collided at a speed of 11.7 kilometres per second, or approximately 42,120 kilometres per hour.

 

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