Station Crew Takes Precautionary Measures
ANN REALTIME UPDATE 03.12.09 1300 EDT: All
clear. NASA reports the debris threat to the International Space
Station has passed. The crew was notified of the all clear at 12:45
pm EDT, and is now departing the Soyuz capsule in anticipation of
returning the station to normal operations.
It not yet known how close the debris -- a spent satellite
rocket motor -- passed to the station.
At least one Russian Soyuz capsule remains attached to the ISS
at all times, in order to serve as a "lifeboat" in case of an
emergency event that requires the crew to evacuate the station. A
second capsule will be added when the station reaches its maximum
normal crew complement of six, which is expected later this
1215 EDT: NASA reports International Space
Station Expedition 18 crew members are taking precautionary
measures Thursday, due to space debris that has been
determined to be within the range where a collision is
The debris in question is a portion of a spent satellite motor,
which will pass within the distance of the station's debris
avoidance maneuver requirement "box." News of the close approach
came too late for flight controllers to coordinate an avoidance
maneuver, however, forcing the crew
Crew members entered the station's Soyuz TMA-13 "lifeboat" and
soft-locked 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 case the debris collided with the station causing a
The time of closest approach of the debris to the station is
12:39 pm 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 pm EDT. They will
remain in the Soyuz until the debris risk has passed.
NASA stressed 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.