Debris Avoidance Maneuver: Space Station Thrusters Fire To Avoid Russian Space Junk

International Space Station Pictured From SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour

The International Space Station is pictured from the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour during a fly around of the orbiting lab that took place following its undocking from the Harmony module’s space-facing port on November 8, 2021. Credit: NASA

Last evening, the Progress 81 docked to the International Space Station (ISS) fired its thrusters for 5 minutes, 5 seconds in a Pre-Determined Debris Avoidance Maneuver (PDAM) to provide the complex an extra measure of distance away from the predicted track of a fragment of Russian Cosmos 1408 debris.

The thruster firing occurred at 8:25 p.m. EDT and the maneuver had no impact on station operations. It was predicted that the fragment could have passed within about three miles of the station without the maneuver.

The PDAM increased the station’s altitude by 2/10 of a mile at apogee and 8/10 of a mile at perigee and left the station in an orbit of 264.3 x 255.4 statute miles.

The Progress 81 spacecraft is a Russian resupply cargo ship that arrived at the ISS on June 3.

Cosmos 1408 was an electronic signals intelligence satellite (spy satellite) operated by the Soviet Union. It has been in low Earth orbit since September 1982. It became inactive after about 2 years, but was left in orbit. In November 2021, the satellite was destroyed in a Russian anti-satellite weapon test, leaving a field of space debris in an orbit that can pose a risk to the ISS and other satellites.

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