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ISS - No Debris Avoidance Maneuver Required Saturday

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Sat Nov 28, 2009 11:15 am via: source
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(NASA) – After coordinating with Russian flight controllers, International Space Station Flight Director Kwatsi Alibaruho decided Friday night that a Debris Avoidance Maneuver would not be required on Saturday to steer the complex clear of a remnant of a Delta rocket that launched the Stardust mission in February 1999. The rocket body had been moving toward the vicinity of the orbital outpost over the past few days based on tracking by NASA Flight Dynamics and ballistics officers.

Although earlier tracking data indicated that the debris was steadily approaching the station, additional tracking runs on Friday afternoon and Friday evening confirmed that the debris was, in fact, moving further away and would not come any closer than 9 kilometers, or 5 ½ miles of the station, posing no threat.

Set against a background of clouds, the International Space Station is seen from space shuttle Atlantis after undocking. Photo credit: NASA

Set against a background of clouds, the International Space Station is seen from space shuttle Atlantis after undocking. Photo credit: NASA

Flight controllers are now keeping an eye on a second debris source, the remnant of an old Hitchhiker science payload, which tracking picked up on Friday afternoon. This piece of space junk is currently forecast to come within an overall miss distance of about 14 kilometers, or 8.6 miles, around 9:05 a.m. EST on Monday. It is not currently considered enough of a threat to require an avoidance maneuver. If further tracking Saturday shows a greater concern, planning for a maneuver will begin in earnest.

Meanwhile, the departing Expedition 21 crew, Soyuz Commander Roman Romanenko, European Space Agency Flight Engineer Frank De Winne and Canadian Space Agency Flight Engineer Bob Thirsk will spend the weekend preparing their Soyuz TMA-15 spacecraft for its undocking Monday night at 10:56 p.m., heading for a landing in Kazakhstan at 2:16 a.m. Tuesday (1:16 p.m. Kazakhstan time) to conclude their 188 days in space, 186 days on the station. Expedition Commander Jeff Williams and Flight Engineer Max Suraev will remain on the station after Romanenko, De Winne and Thirsk depart, comprising the new Expedition 22 crew as a two-man contingent for three weeks until the arrival Dec. 23 of Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kotov, NASA’s T.J. Creamer, and Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, who will launch to the station Dec. 21 on the Soyuz TMA-17 craft.

The International Space Station’s most recent visitors, the crew members of space shuttle Atlantis, landed at Kennedy Space Center, Fla. on Friday at 9:44 a.m. EST, winding up the STS-129 mission that included three spacewalks and more than six days at the orbiting complex.

The STS-129 mission focused on the storage of spare hardware on the exterior of the station. The 11-day flight included three spacewalks and the installation of two platforms to the station’s truss, or backbone. The platforms will hold spare parts to sustain station operations after the shuttles are retired. This equipment is large and can only be transported using the unique capability of the shuttle.

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