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NASA astronauts on the ISS hid from the debris of a Russian satellite - it fell apart

NASA astronauts on the ISS hid from the debris of a Russian satellite - it fell apart
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American astronauts on the International Space Station were ordered to take cover for about an hour after a Russian satellite disintegrated nearby. NASA reports that on Thursday evening, US crews took shelter in their spacecraft due to the satellite breakup. NASA's directive to take cover was a precautionary measure. After an hour, the crews were allowed to resume their normal activities.

The US Space Command stated that the Resurs-P1 satellite, owned by Russia and decommissioned in 2021, had collapsed. The satellite's collapse on Wednesday around 16:00 UTC created "more than 100 fragments that can be tracked." According to LeoLabs estimates, Resurs-P1 weighed about 6 tons and had an almost circular orbit when it broke apart.

"USSPACECOM did not notice any immediate threats and continues to conduct regular assessments to support the safety and stability of the space domain," the command statement said.

LeoLabs, a company that tracks satellite movements, wrote that they are monitoring over 180 fragments drifting in orbit after the breakup.

"We expect this number to increase in the coming days. We are actively analyzing the debris cloud to characterize it, determine potential cause, and assess impact."

The Russian satellite was an observation tool that captured high-resolution images, allowing objects on Earth to be distinguished from each other at a distance of about 1 meter.

Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, stated in January 2022 that the satellite had been inactive since late 2021 due to the failure of its onboard equipment after operating 3.5 years longer than expected. The breakup of satellites in low Earth orbit can often pose a threat to other satellites, spacecraft, or space stations due to debris.

Pieces of debris can sometimes remain in a close orbit for decades before Earth's gravity pulls them into the atmosphere to burn up. Space agencies are working to reduce the amount of space debris in low Earth orbit as more satellites are decommissioned, and their fragments increase the risk of spacecraft accidents.

The preferred method of disposing of decommissioned satellites is usually to send them farther away from Earth, reducing risks to space activity near the planet. Another method is to allow the satellite to burn up in the atmosphere.

Source: Business Insider

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