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Astronauts emerge from shelter after ‘avoidance maneuver’ successful

An unknown piece of space debris is expected to pass near the International Space Station Tuesday afternoon.
An unknown piece of space debris is expected to pass near the International Space Station Tuesday afternoon.(Source: NASA)
Published: Sep. 22, 2020 at 5:47 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 22, 2020 at 6:13 PM EDT
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(KLTV/Gray News) - Astronauts aboard the International Space Station have emerged from their ‘safe haven’ after taking shelter inside their Soyuz spacecraft as an unknown piece of space debris approached the orbiting outpost.

According to NASA, the object was expected to pass within .8 of a mile of the space station Tuesday afternoon.

Around 5:19 p.m. ET, the Russian Progress 75 resupply spacecraft docked to the ISS conducted an avoidance maneuver, firing its thrusters for 150 seconds. According to NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, the maneuver was successful in boosting the station to a safer orbit.

The Expedition 63 crew temporarily relocated to their Soyuz spacecraft “out of an abundance of caution,” a news release stated. “At no time was the crew in any danger.”

Flight controllers at NASA’s Johnson Space Center and United States Space Command were tracking the debris, which was predicted to make its closest approach around 6:21 p.m. ET.

The space agency says the ISS crew, currently consisting of NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and Russian cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner, have resumed their regular activities.

In a tweet, Bridenstine said this is the third time this year the space station has maneuvered to avoid debris.

“In the last 2 weeks, there have been 3 high concern potential conjunctions. Debris is getting worse!”

The Trump administration appointee also called on Congress to provide the Department of Commerce with $15 million requested for the Office of Space Commerce.

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