NASA postponed the November 30 spacewalk to prevent the risk of space debris flying too close to the ISS station.
According to the schedule, the two astronauts will wear space suits, float outside the ISS station and spend 6.5 hours replacing the faulty antenna system. But early on November 30, NASA said it received a “debris warning” near the ISS the night before. Authorities did not disclose when or how far the debris flew past the ISS. NASA astronauts Thomas Marshburn and Kayla Barron will walk into space another day.
“Due to the lack of opportunity to fully assess the risk to astronauts, we have decided to postpone the spacewalk scheduled for November 30 until more information is available,” NASA said in a statement. know.
This is not the first time space junk has disrupted the operation of the ISS station. The amount of debris in Earth’s orbit has been steadily increasing over the years as spacecraft break up, decommissioned satellites crash into each other and countries test rockets that destroy satellites. According to the European Space Agency (ESA), an average of 12 such events have occurred each year over the past two decades.
Space junk not only messes with NASA’s schedule but is also very dangerous. Hundreds of thousands of pieces of old satellites and rockets orbit the Earth at speeds 10 times faster than bullets. If a piece of space junk hits the ISS, it could create a hole. If you hit an astronaut on a spacewalk, the accident can be fatal. In 2020, the ISS station had to adjust its altitude three times to avoid the path of high-risk debris. In June 2021, a piece of space junk punctured the ISS spacewalking robotic arm.
Authorities are not sure if the November 30 debris is related to Russia’s November 15 satellite destruction test. This test caused an old Russian spacecraft to explode, creating a cloud of debris that scattered throughout Earth’s orbit. Astronauts on the ISS station must temporarily hide in the spacecraft, ready to separate from the station and fly back to Earth if necessary. After about two hours of emergency shelter, they returned to normal operations. Dana Weigel, NASA’s deputy program manager for the ISS, said it would take several months to sort through the large pieces of debris from the Russian rocket test and assess how close they were as they flew past the ISS.