Headlines > News > Station Crew Takes Shelter as Debris Passes

Station Crew Takes Shelter as Debris Passes

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Wed Jun 29, 2011 5:24 am via: NASA
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On the heels of a routine fire drill aboard the International Space Station, an actual emergency event of a possible conjunction with a piece of unidentified space debris that later passed by harmlessly took center stage of the Expedition 28 crew’s activities Tuesday.

The station’s six residents began their workday conducting a periodic fire drill to review their roles and responsibilities in the event of a fire aboard the orbiting outpost.

After the drill, the crew received late notification that an unknown object of undetermined size was expected to make its closest approach to the station at 8:08 a.m. EDT, and predictions indicated it could come within 820 feet (250 meters) of the station.

After closing the hatches to the various modules, Expedition 28 Commander Andrey Borisenko, and Flight Engineers Ron Garan, and Alexander Samokutyaev took shelter in their Soyuz TMA-21 spacecraft, docked to the station’s Poisk module. Flight Engineers Sergei Volkov, Mike Fossum and Satoshi Furukawa took shelter in their Soyuz TMA-02M spacecraft, docked to the Rassvet module.

At 8:11 a.m., Capcom Kjell Lindgren at Mission Control gave the “all clear” to the crew to leave the shelter of the Soyuz spacecraft after the unidentified space junk passed. The crew returned to its regular schedule after having spent about a half hour sheltered in the two Soyuz craft.

This was only the second time that a space station crew had been required to take shelter in the Soyuz spacecraft. The first time was March 12, 2009.

Mission Control can coordinate what is known as a debris avoidance maneuver to move the station out of the debris path when the prediction of a possible orbital meeting is made far enough in advance. In this case, flight controllers did not receive word of the close pass until about 14 hours before the time of closest approach.

Also on Tuesday, the Expedition 28 crew prepared for the spacewalk that Fossum and Garan will perform when the STS-135 crew aboard space shuttle Atlantis visits the station during the final mission of the shuttle program. That launch is currently planned for July 8. Fossum and Garan reviewed procedures for a tag-up later with spacewalk specialists on the ground.

On Wednesday beginning at 8:15 a.m., the engines of the ISS Progress 43 cargo craft docked to the aft port of the station’s Zvezda service module will fire for 33 minutes and six seconds. This reboost will increase the station’s altitude and refine docking opportunities with Atlantis. Progress 43 docked to the station Thursday, bringing around three tons of fuel, air and supplies for the Expedition 28 crew.

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