US says it is aware of ‘debris-generating event’ as ISS put on alert of collisions in space

Andrew Griffin
Monday 15 November 2021 22:30
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US officials have said that a “debris-generating event” has happened in space, after astronauts on board the International Space Station had to undertake emergency measures for fear of a collision.

US Space Command said it was aware that something had happened to spread cdebris across space, and that it was gathering information to ensure that satellites were kept safe.

It said that it was “working to characterise the debris field”, suggesting that it could not yet confirm what had caused the cloud that forced astronauts into their spacecraft.

But the emergency manoeuvres on the International Space Station followed rumours that there may have been an anti-satellite weapons test over the weekend that may have generated the debris cloud from which the astronauts had to flee.

The statement from US Space Command came hours after astronauts were forced into the Russian Soyuz and SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsules, as part of “safe heaven” measures designed to protect them in the event of a collision.

The orbit of the debris cloud and the International Space Station appears to be intersecting roughly every 90 minutes, meaning that the concern continues even though the astronauts are now out of those spacecrafts and continuing more like normal.

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