International Space Station in ‘avoidance manoeuvre’ to dodge ‘unknown’ debris

The International Space Station (ISS) has narrowly dodged an unidentified object flying through space.

NASA said the "unknown piece of space debris" came kilometres from crashing into the ISS 250 miles above Earth.

The space station had to use the Russian resupply spacecraft Progress to move out of the way of the junk.

Progress was docked to the “aft end” (the rear) of the Zvezda service module at the time.

A spokesman for the US space agency said: “Out of an abundance of caution, the Expedition 63 crew will relocate to their Soyuz spacecraft until the debris has passed by the station."

NASA said it needs to carry an "avoidance manoeuvre" around once a year.

The ISS can withstand hits from small pieces of space debris but has to move to avoid larger ones.

NASA added: “If another object is projected to come within a few kilometres of the International Space Station, the ISS will normally manoeuvre away from the object if the chance of a collision exceeds 1 in 10,000."

The amount of material orbiting the Earth topped 8,000 metric tons of material at the start of the year.

That includes more than 23,000 pieces of orbital debris which are larger than 10cm.

The space junk can include derelict spacecraft and debris intentionally released from spacecrafts during mission operations.

It could also be tiny bits of paint released by thermal stress or small collisions.

Recently astronauts on the ISS had to find an air leak which had been letting out oxygen since September 2019.

It saw the rate of depressurisation increase but posed no threat to the astronauts on board as the leak still remained within specifications.

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