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.