Monday, July 11, 2011

'Russian' debris threatens Atlantis mission as ground control fears it will hurtle 'dangerously close' to International Space Station during walk

Nasa is monitoring a piece of 'Russian' space junk that looks likely to come dangerously close to the International Space Station during a planned space walk tomorrow.

The debris is heading towards the station, where Atlantis yesterday docked on its final mission.

Scientists are still trying to work out how big the object is and how close it will come to Atlantis. Some believe it originated from a defunct Russian satellite that is orbiting Earth.

LeRoy Cain, mission management team leader, said he hopes the space junk will keep a safe distance and as they observe its trajectory throughout today, they will be able to work out how close it will come.

If it appears that the space junk is getting too close for comfort, the astronauts will be able to use thrusters to move Atlantis out of its way.

Two weeks ago, the crew of the ISS had to shelter in the lifeboats after a piece of debris missed them by just over 1,000ft - the closest call to date. Read More