The International Space Station (ISS) performed a “Pre-Determined Debris Avoidance Maneuver” to increase its distance away from a fragment of a Russian satellite.
NASA said in a post on its website that the ISS’s thrusters fired for more than five minutes Monday to provide an “additional measure of distance” from a fragment of debris from the Russian Cosmos 1408, a Soviet satellite launched in 1982 that operated for a couple of years.
A Russian anti-satellite test last November destroyed the satellite and generated a large cloud of debris, according to NASA. The cloud included about 1,500 pieces large enough to be tracked.
The thruster began firing at 8:25 p.m. Monday and did not affect station operations. The fragment could have passed within about three miles of the station if the maneuver had not been completed.
NPR reported that millions of pieces of debris orbit Earth, most of which results from satellite explosions and collisions.
The ISS moves about once a year to avoid coming into contact with debris, according to NPR.