Station Crew Takes Precautionary Measures Due to Space Debris
International Space Station Expedition 18 crew members are taking precautionary measures due to space debris that has been determined to be within the range where a collision is possible. News of the close approach came too late for flight controllers to coordinate an avoidance maneuver. A portion of a spent satellite motor is within the distance of the station's debris avoidance maneuver requirement "box."
Crew members are entering their Soyuz TMA-13 capsule and soft-locking the hatches, in case the debris should affect the space station and they are required to undock. The closure of the hatches ensures the safety of the crew and the ability to quickly depart the station in the unlikely event the debris collided with the station causing a depressurization.
The time of closest approach of the debris to the station is 12:39 p.m. EDT. Once the object is clear of the station, the crew will exit the Soyuz and reopen the hatches.
The crew will be in the Soyuz from 12:35-12:45 p.m. EDT. They will remain in the Soyuz until the debris risk has passed. Moving the crew into the Soyuz is a precaution, as the probability of impact is low. The crew is currently putting space station into an unmanned configuration, including several interior station hatches.