The seven astronauts working aboard the International Space Station were forced to take shelter in their space capsules as a cloud of debris moved toward the station on Monday.
While the debris eventually moved away from the ISS, NASA’s mission control in Houston advised the astronauts to seek refuge to avoid a collision that might require them to return to Earth.
The U.S State Department said the debris came from fragments of a Russian anti- satellite missile test.
Satellite Kosmos-1408 was hit as part of the test, which caused thousands of pieces of debris to scatter, State Department spokesman Ned Price said.
American astronauts Tom Marshburn, Raja Chari and Kayla Barron and Matthias Maurer of the European Space Agency sheltered in their Crew Dragon spacecraft, while Russian cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov, Pyotr Dubrov and NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei sheltered in the Soyuz capsule.
Marshburn, Chari, Maurer and Barron entered the ISS on Thursday, arriving on the SpaceX Crew Dragon.
Last year, members of NASA’s Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel warned that space debris should be a top priority and called for the agency to move faster on a plan to better track and mitigate the dangers it poses.
Debris orbits at thousands of mph, and even tiny pieces of space trash can puncture spacecraft.
“I cannot emphasize the importance of this issue enough, and we really need some action taken now,” panel chairwoman Patricia Sanders said.Internet Explorer Channel Network