Space Station Fires Thrusters To Avoid Dangerous Debris From Pegasus Rocket

The space station was pictured from the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour during its departure on November 8, 2021. Credit: NASA Johnson

At 1:58 a.m. CST, 2:58 a.m. EST this morning (December 3, 2021), the Russian Progress 79, attached to the space station, fired its thrusters for 2 minutes and 41 seconds to slightly lower the station’s orbit. This maneuver provided a healthy margin of separation from a fragment of Pegasus rocket debris (object 39915) that ballistics specialists have been tracking. The Expedition 66 crew aboard the station is not in any additional danger.

The Pre-determined Debris Avoidance Maneuver, or PDAM, was coordinated between NASA flight controllers, Russian ballistics officials, and the station’s other international partners.

The station’s orbit has been lowered by 3/10 of a mile at apogee and 4/10 of a mile at perigee. The current orbit is 262.6 x 258.8 statute miles.

Object 39915 was a piece of debris generated during the breakup of object 23106 (Pegasus R/B). The launch occurred on May 19, 1994, and the breakup of the rocket’s upper stage occurred on June 3, 1996.

International Space StationNASASpace Debris
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  • Elmer Harbaugh

    Does anybody besides me remember an old radio show called “Tom Corbett Space Cadet”? They never imagined space debris back in the 1940’s! But every show they would go thru meteor showers that hit their craft, sounding like hail hitting a tin roof. Of course we can easily predict and track most meteors that come near earth but this space debris has got to go before an entire crew perishes!