NASA planned to venture outside the International Space Station at the last minute on Wednesday after a large piece of Russian space debris came dangerously close to the orbital station.
NASA astronauts Frank Rubio and Josh Cassada were preparing to emerge from the US-built Quest airlock International Space Station on Wednesday morning (Dec. 21) to install new solar arrays when Mission Control ordered its team to shut down for work. Instead, the space station will run a time interval to get out of the way of the big part space debris That’s on track to get dangerously close to the lab later in the day. The space walk was last rescheduled for Thursday, Dec. 22.
The wreckage in question is a piece of a Russian rocket, an 11-foot-wide (3.35-meter) upper-stage frigate used Soyuz and Zenith launchers. Junk was predicted to come within less than a quarter of a mile (0.4 kilometers) of the station later today, triggering a “red” alert at the top of the field, Dan Huot, a NASA spokesman at Mission Control at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, said in a live comment.
Related: International Space Station: live updates
“This is a piece of debris that has been investigated in the last two days and the data of its investigation has always been in our green or yellow environment, so there is no need to make a fuss,” said Huot. “But this morning, this red is moving, and once we go into the red, we have to work, whether it’s debris processing, or some other precaution to help bring the rate safely.”
The space trial to lift off the spacewalk at about 5 am EST (1000 GMT), Huot added. The ground control team is now preparing to steer the station to safety using the thrusters of the Russian spaceship’s advanced spacecraft, which is currently docked at the Russian segment of the station. The event is expected to take place at 8:42 am EST (1342 GMT).
Huot said the space station was in no danger of debris, which he predicted would make its closest approach to the space lab at 11:17 am EST (1617 GMT).
NASA will need a new slot for the space shuttle, which could happen later this week.
“The team will have to reschedule their schedule for a day when they don’t expect to see a spacewalk today,” Huot said. “The crowd is not in danger. It’s not the first time we’ve done this and it won’t be the last. It’s just about some things working in low Earth orbit.”
About a week after the significant incident Coolant Leak from Russia’s Soyuz crewed the capsule that brought NASA’s Frank Rubio and Russian cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitry Petelin to the space station in September. The leak, which returned the capsule safely to the astronaut’s flight home, has been blamed on a piece of debris or a meteorite by experts, although a formal investigation has yet to be conducted.
If the concerns are confirmed, it may be the first space station in its history He sent his whole crew without being able to get home safely if a serious incident is not possible.
“It’s never a dull day aboard the International Space Station,” Huot said.
Editor’s note: This story was updated at 4 p.m. to note that NASA canceled the spacewalk on Thursday, Dec. 22. You can watch the space walk online, courtesy of NASA TV, starting at 7 am EST (1200 GMT). The space walk will begin at 8:30 am EST (1330 GMT).
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