Playing it conservatively, International Space Station flight controllers conducted a pre-determined avoidance maneuver today to steer the station well clear of a fragment of a spent Minotaur rocket body launched in 2013. Having tracked the object throughout the weekend and today, U.S. and Russian flight controllers executed a 5 minute, 22 second firing of the ISS Progress 58 thrusters at 2:58 p.m. CDT to slightly raise the station’s orbit and distance it from the fragment that was projected to pass within three statute miles of the complex later in the day.
The maneuver raised the station’s altitude by just 106 feet at apogee and 7/10 of a mile at perigee, resulting in an ISS orbit of 254 x 244.8 statute miles. The crew was never in any danger and the maneuver will have no impact on the scheduled landing later this week of three crew members from the station.
Seen here is a night view from the space station on May 18, 2015 that gives a view of brilliant city lights on the Earth’s surface shining beneath thousands of stars above. The thin line of Earth’s atmosphere can be seen with the green glow of aurora along the outer edge.
Image credit: NASA
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