Sunday, February 4, 2007

ISS moves to avoid China's Space Junk

Simulation of the orbital track of the I.S.S., showing its position a few hours ago. It had been passing through the Chinese debris field several times per day.

On January 19th I described the massive debris field created by a Chinese ASAT test, conducted by the missile forces of the People's Liberation Army (PLA). The junk girdles the earth on a pole-to-pole orbit. A news report from Moscow on Feb. 2, filed by the Novosti agency and picked up by U.P., says that the orbit of the International Space Station (ISS) has been altered to protect it from Chinese space junk.

"We are diverting the orbit of the ISS to prevent a possible collision with large fragments of space debris, a decision the Russian Mission Control took together with the Johnson Space Center in Houston," a Russian Mission Control spokesman told Novosti.

The I.S.S. has an anti-meteorite system which could handle Chinese micro-fragments, but not large chunks of metal. The U.S. has filed a diplomatic protest, which has fallen on deaf ears. The report continued: "Russian and U.S. space agencies were both tracking fragments from the weather satellite. U.S. officials said they were following 525 large fragments and had recorded between 500 and 600 instances of debris passing within three miles of orbiting satellites."

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