Close call with Russian debris postpones US spacewalk, NASA says

Crew not in any immediate danger, agency says

FILE - In this handout photo released by Roscosmos State Space Corporation, a view of the International Space Station taken on March 30, 2022 by crew of Russian Soyuz MS-19 space ship after undocking from the Station. Russia's space corporation Roscosmos said Monday Dec. 19, 2022 that a coolant leak from a Russian space capsule attached to the International Space Station doesn't require evacuation of its crew, but held the door open for launching a replacement capsule if needed. (Roscosmos State Space Corporation via AP, File) (Uncredited, Roscosmos State Space Corporation)

The trajectory of a piece of space debris from a Russian rocket prompted flight control teams at NASA on Wednesday to stop preparations for a U.S. spacewalk at the International Space Station, according to the agency’s blog.

NASA’s ground team has since begun procedures for a Pre-Determined Debris Avoidance Maneuver (PDAM), during which thrusters will be fired on the Roscosmos Progress 81 cargo craft attached to the station in order to give the ISS more distance from the path of the debris. Though the station’s crew is not in any immediate danger, the fragment — from the upper stage of a Russian Fregat-SB rocket — could come within less than a quarter of a mile of the ISS without the help of a PDAM, a news release states.

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Thruster firing is set for 8:42 a.m. ET, with agency managers expected to reschedule the day’s spacewalk. The operation will eventually involve Expedition 68 astronauts Frank Rubio and Josh Cassada, tasked with installing a fourth roll-out solar array to augment the station’s power generation system, about a seven-hour job that the blog details.

Another planned spacewalk at the ISS, one involving Russian cosmonauts, was interrupted last Wednesday when a “stream of particles” began to leak from near the propulsion module of the Soyuz spacecraft’s MS-22 vehicle, according to NASA. Cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin returned safely to the ISS and neither of them were injured or endangered, the agency confirmed.

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Brandon, a UCF grad, joined the ClickOrlando team in November 2021. Before joining News 6, Brandon worked at WDBO.