ISS Swerves to Avoid Iridium Debris, Readies for Spacewalk – UPDATE

ISS Swerves to Avoid Iridium Debris, Readies for Spacewalk – UPDATE

UPDATE (November 1):   The spacewalk took place today as expected.   Williams and Hoshide rerouted the leaking radiator’s ammonia flow through a spare radiator during their 6 hours and 38 minutes outside.   NASA will monitor the situation to determine if anything more needs to be done to fix the problem with the 2B solar array power channel’s photovoltaic thermal control system.

ORIGINAL STORY (October 31): The frenetic pace at the International Space Station (ISS) just doesn’t stop.   After the docking of Progress M-17M this morning, the ISS changed its orbit to avoid a piece of debris from Iridium 33 and got ready for a spacewalk tomorrow.

At 7:08 pm ET, the ISS changed course to avoid debris from the 2009 collision between the U.S. Iridium 33 satellite and a defunct Russian satellite, Kosmos 2251.   That collision dramatically increased the amount of debris in low Earth orbit, already affected by a 2007 Chinese antisatellite test against one of its own satellites.  The two events — one accidental, the other intentional —  highlighted the issue of space debris and its impact on operations in low Earth orbit, leading to a change in U.S. space policy and the drafting of a “code of conduct” by the European Union to prevent more debris.

Meanwhile, NASA astronaut and ISS commander Suni Williams and Japanese astronaut Aki Hoshide were getting ready for a contingency spacewalk scheduled to begin at 8:15 am Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) tomorrow, November 1.   The two have completed two spacewalks together already.   The spacewalk tomorrow is to repair an ammonia leak from one the space station’s radiators.  NASA TV will cover the spacewalk live beginning at 7:15 am.

Williams, Hoshide and Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko were joined by three new crewmates just days ago, returning the space station to its usual complement of six.  NASA astronaut Kevin Ford and Russian cosmonauts Oleg Novitsky and Evegeny Tarelkin docked with the ISS on Thursday, October 25. 

To keep up with the busy comings and goings on the ISS, visit NASA’s ISS website.

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