Station Fires Engines to Avoid Orbital Debris

At 10:36 p.m. EDT, ground controllers moved the International Space Station away from a piece of orbital debris. The object is a relic from a collision between the COSMOS 2251 and Iridium 33 satellites in February 2009 and had been close to the station’s orbit prior to the debris avoidance maneuver. The DAM, performed during the Expedition 27 crew sleep period, used thrusters from three spacecraft, the European Space Agency’s Johannes Kepler Automated Transfer Vehicle 2, the Zvezda service module and Progress 41P.

Mission Control Center had been monitoring a series of conjunctions between the International Space Station and the orbital debris. The Expedition 27 crew was informed of the possible conjunction and planned maneuver. While the Mission Control Center planned the debris avoidance maneuver, the three-member Expedition 27 crew continued preparing for the upcoming arrival of three more crew members on Soyuz 26 following Monday’s launch of  NASA astronaut Ron Garan, and Russian cosmonauts Andrey Borisenko, and Alexander Samokutyaev from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, and for the upcoming STS-134 mission of space shuttle Endeavour. The maneuver is not expected to significantly affect the launch time for the Soyuz TMA-21 on April 4 at 6:18 p.m. EDT, or the April 19 launch of Endeavour.

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