The 21-foot-long Raffaello Multi-Purpose Logistics Module emerges from the cargo bay of the shuttle Atlantis, using robot arm operations. Raffaello is loaded with food, spare parts and other supplies for the International Space Station. Photo Credit/NASA TV
The docked International and Space Station shuttle Atlantis will not have to maneuver to avoid a piece of space debris from a Soviet-era military satellite, NASA determined early Monday.
Sunday's docking of Atlantis with the orbiting science laboratory imparted small but sufficient propulsive forces to sidestep a close pass by the debris from Cosmos 375 on Tuesday during the mission's only scheduled spacewalk, said NASA spokesman Rob Navias.
NASA observes a virtual debris "keep out" zone around the station that measures 15.6 miles long, 15.6 miles wide and 1.2 miles deep (25 km by 25 km by 2 km). When tracking by U.S. Strategic Command, suggests a conjunction, NASA and Russia's mission control personnel prepare for a possible maneuver of the space station as they refine the potential for a collision.
The potential close approach was calculated for Tuesday at 12:59 p.m. EDT, when station astronauts Mike Fossum and Ron Garan are scheduled to be moving a satellite refueling experiment from the shuttle's cargo bay to the space station's solar power truss for future trials. They will also move a failed station thermal control system circulation pump to the shuttle's payload bay for return to Earth.
Early Monday, the 10 U. S., Russian and Japanese astronauts aboard the shuttle and station began to transfer the Raffaello Multi-Purpose Logistics Module from Atlantis to the station's U. S. segment Harmony module, using robot arm operations.
Raffaello holds more than 8,000 pounds of food, spare parts, research gear and other supplies that will be off-loaded over the next week.