ISS Buzzed As Crew Lands

A small 10cm piece of Russian rocket debris buzzed within a kilometer of the ISS today, but mission managers were unconcerned. Orbit projections showed that the debris would not pose a threat to the station and stood down plans to have the crew on board take refuge in their Soyuz escape capsule in case they had to make an emergency evacuation.

Orbital debris is a constant problem for the International Space Station, with so much junk polluting Low Earth Orbit that NASA must track each one and keep a vigilant eye on possible collisions. Despite three recent close calls, the outlook for the ISS is fairly stable for the immediate future.

Soyuz capsule landed in Kazakhstan

Before the drama, three of the five crew departed the station on their planned return to Earth after six-months in space, leaving just two occupants aboard the multi-billion dollar outpost. American commander Jeffrey Williams and Russian flight engineer Maxim Suraev will be joined by three more crew in late December when a Russian Soyuz launches a replacement crew.

Image credit: Roscosmos/NASA TV
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