Flight control teams in the U. S. and Russia orchestrated a debris avoidance maneuver of the International Space Station late Saturday to avoid a series of collision threats posed by a fragment from the Fengyun 1-C weather satellite blasted apart during a 2007 Chinese anti-satellite weapons test.
The maneuver at 6:50 p.m., EST, was calculated to nudge the nearly one million pound orbiting science lab clear of seven close passes of the same fragment during the overnight hours.
The avoidance maneuver used thrusters in the station’s Russian Svezda service module. The 64 second burn was developed to replace a phasing maneuver scheduled for Feb. 1.
The U. S. Space Surveillance network and NASA had been watching the course of the fragment for much of last week. Higher levels of solar activity complicated the trajectory predictions.
The station is staffed by two Americans, three Russians and a European astronaut.
China’s Jan. 11, 2007 anti-satellite weapons test added more than 3,000 fragments to an already growing accumulation of manmade debris in orbits populated by unmanned as well as piloted spacecraft.