January 13th, 2012
11:13 AM ET

ISS gets out of the way

The International Space Station crew has spotted a 10-centimeter piece of debris from an Iridium communications satellite and will perform a "reboost" of the station to avoid it. The reboost is scheduled for 11:10 a.m. ET today, January 13.

The reboost will raise the apogee of the station's orbit by 2/10 of a mile.

NASA spokesman Kelly Humphries said that NASA had a scheduled reboost next week in order to dock with a Progress resupply vessel but that this piece of debris prompted NASA to move the scheduled reboost up.

The crew of Expedition 30, currently onboard the ISS, will not have to take shelter in the Soyuz spacecraft, but they have been instructed to close the window covers of the Cupola and power down certain systems until the time of the debris' closest approach has passed.

The crew of the ISS used the Russian Zvezda module's engines to boost the station's orbit.

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Filed under: In Space • News
soundoff (87 Responses)

    keep joking im surprised mankind has the intelect to get to space look around they screwed the planet up and their looking for an escape SADDD

    January 19, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
  2. mr774

    UFOs from outer solar system should think how to avoid clashing with debris.

    January 13, 2012 at 9:40 pm |
  3. nelson f

    we have the technology to go in orbit. but none to cleanup our mess. sad.

    January 13, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
  4. darketernal

    Space is a fragile enviroment, we must take great care not to pollute it like we did on earth. Otherwhise the orbiting trash just comes flying straight back in our faces.

    January 13, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
  5. Jeff

    Well...Friday the 13th proved unlucky for them.

    January 13, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
  6. Jim

    They need Adam Quark and his United Galaxy Sanitation Patrol Cruiser. (70's sitcom flashback)

    January 13, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • Beefburger

      Omfg! I remember that show, did they ever find out which one of the girls was a clone?

      January 14, 2012 at 7:08 am |
  7. CAPtin

    Force fields at maximum!

    January 13, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • JMB

      You sound like you must have played dungeons an dragons as a kid.. awful....

      January 13, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
      • M.Patrick

        @ JMB: you sound like you have no sense of humor.... awful...

        January 13, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
      • R-Mac

        This quote is form Star Trek, not D&D

        January 13, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
  8. Cameron

    Nice work, NASA. I just wish we could've gone to Mars before we pulled the plug on the shuttle program. Oh well.

    January 13, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
    • Jim

      The Shuttle would never get us to Mars. But it is the ideal vehicle to supply and service the ISS. I'm surprised we retired it while the station is still operating.

      January 13, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • Polymath

      Cameron, the shuttle program was shut down because it was too dangerous and too expensive. It was closed down so that we COULD go to Mars.

      January 13, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • WhatWhatWhat?

      It was replaced with a manned launch vehicle named Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) which won't be ready until 2016. Until then, the Russians are providing the transportation because of all the money they owe us.

      January 13, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • Juliemac

      Dick Cheney was instrumental in closing down the shuttle as well as the SR71.
      Thanks Dick.

      January 13, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
  9. Aezelll

    We are going to need to start regulating satellite issues sooner or later. Right now it is pretty much, "hey feel free to throw anything up in orbit and leave it there." A little piece of trash in space = deadly.

    January 13, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
    • astonlad

      True, and with more nations than ever now capable of launching satellites, the unregulated congestion is just going to get worse.

      January 13, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
  10. zook250

    what kinda budget would nasa need to install a traktor beam on the ISS and hire a few good stormtroopers to run it? problem solved.

    January 13, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
  11. Chris Grau

    "Space debris" makes it sound like it is something natural floating around that is going to hit our space station. This is human litter and it sucks that if I were to drop a bag into a pond it is a $2500 fine...but people dump this kind of stuff in space.

    January 13, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
  12. Emperor

    Commander, the time has come...Execute order 66

    January 13, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
  13. Bobbie

    10 centimeters?! Basically, 4 inches long? They have to be worried about something that small? Unbelievable!

    January 13, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • Mac11

      That would rip a hole that would doom the ISS. If you do not know the mechanics of the space station, you might look more intelligent if you keep you mouth shut.

      January 13, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • yeahalright

      Really? You have a hard time believing/understanding that? How is that possible? Use your brain.

      Here's an example: a bullet is about the same size. I suspect you'd be worried about one of those humming at you.

      January 13, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • Barry

      They have to be worried about stuff even smaller. The last thing you want is something punching a hole through the station! Don't forget that the article does not mention how many tens of thousands of miles per hour that piece is moving at. Think of it as if it were a bullet, you would be concerned if that tiny piece of lead was coming at you wouldn't you?

      January 13, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • Matt

      10 centimeters, but depending on how fast it's moving (and it would be moving pretty fast, to be orbiting the planet), it could do massive amounts of damage to the space station. The ISS moves at 17,167 miles per hour, and if we assume that this object is, say, 5 ounces, then it could impart 4.174 Megajoules of energy. Or about the energy of one kilogram of TNT.

      January 13, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
      • Rod

        I'm reading these responses and of course they make complete sense, but I don't see anywhere in the article that it says the particle and the ISS are going in opposite directions. If they were both orbiting in the same direction then of course the impact speed would be reduced, right? So what is the net approach speed we're really talking about here?

        January 13, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
      • Rod

        Or is the particle in geosynchronous orbit?

        January 13, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • Jeff

      The piece of debris itself is travelling at average speeds of 28,000 mph in orbit. If that hit the space station at that speed...the space station would be destroyed.

      January 13, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • JD

      ...so you're NOT smarter than a 5th grader?

      January 13, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • waffenss

      the international space station is doing about 27,000 feet per second, or about 5 miles a second or about 18,000 miles an hour. the debris is doing the same speeds. so double everything. at those speeds a grain of sand can puncture the SS.

      January 13, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • MT


      Energy = (mass) x (the square of the speed). So, speed has more to do with the energy an object delivers than the mass. A very small object moving at a fantastic rate of speed will impact with more energy than an object twice as large moving at half the speed. See?

      January 13, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
      • TAK

        You have the right idea but F=ma is the equation you're looking for. The space station isn't moving at relativistic velocity. No need to resort to Einstein when Isaac Newton will do.

        January 13, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • TAK

      9 millimeters?! You have to be worried about something that small if someone shoots at you? Unbelievable!

      January 13, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • twss

      "10 centimeters?! Basically, 4 inches long?"
      That's what your gf said... haha

      Seriously, do you have no understanding of velocity & mass? A bullet is small but I bet you'd be in a world of hurt if it headed toward you through the barrel of a gun.

      January 13, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • Polymath

      Four inches long and moving at 17,500 m.p.h. Mass x Velocity = a whole lot of kinetic energy here. That object could destroy several M-1 tanks in a row.

      January 13, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • Toby

      Sounds like what my other half said to me last night, "4 inches long? I have to be worried about something that small? Unbelievable!"

      January 13, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
    • Beefburger

      Travelling 1,000 times faster than a bullet it could give you a really bad day when it rips a Cadillac sized hole through your ISS living quarters.

      January 14, 2012 at 7:12 am |
  14. Fox

    Do a barrel roll!

    January 13, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
    • doofus

      there's no time to paint the ISS like a panda. reboost is the only option in the time constraints.

      January 13, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
  15. Jim970

    I was going to suggest that the U.S. technology should be able to find some way to capture all this space junk. Then I was reminded that the U.S. cannot even put a man in space. So, how am I believe they have the technology to do anything?

    January 13, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • J

      We have the technology. And we're launching unmanned missions while planning for the new manned spacecraft and offering financial incentive for the private sector to pick up manned missions into space.

      Just because we stopped launching manned shuttles doesn't mean we "don't have the technology". That's like saying "the US hasn't launched a nuke lately. They must not have the technology."

      Kind of silly.

      January 13, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
      • Alex Povolotski

        You've gotta be kidding me! The US space programme is shut down... for now, at least.

        January 13, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
      • J

        Alex, visit the NASA website. We just launched the Mars Science Laboratory. NASA continues to be involved in planning for future manned spacecraft. We are investing in private sector innovation.

        You're wrong. Don't spread lies.

        January 13, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
      • PAT

        Alex – Russia is having all kinds of failure with each attempt at reaching mars. USA is way ahead of Russia and the world.

        January 13, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
      • Polymath

        Alex P. The U.S. currently does not have a manned launch capability. We are, however, paying Russia to send American astronauts to the International Space Station on Soyuz spacecraft. NASA's other unmanned space programs are in full operation at this time.

        January 13, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • Rusty


      January 13, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
    • luvuall

      We have the technology to identify your typos -and we have the ability to bill you for that service should you request it in the future. Plus in a few decades we will have Captain Kirk and we'd better have a spaceship for him or else...

      January 13, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
  16. PU-239

    That's no moon...ITS A SPACE STATION!

    January 13, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
    • Han

      Chewie, reverse thrusters!

      January 13, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
    • Zeke

      It's too big to be a space station.

      January 13, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • Capt. H. Solo

      I've got a bad feeling about this!!

      January 13, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • Ishor

      obama is a total failure, he has only apiemclcshod one thing in his first year andthat was having a beer summit. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with beer.But hosting a beer summit by the president makes the US a laughing stock of the entire world.He spent the entire year trying to ram down our throats his idea of health care which the country is completely against, but would old big ears o bama listen to the people of the USA? He doesn’t and he didn’tStop the MadnessStop the MadmanImpeach o bama

      April 9, 2012 at 2:42 am |
  17. Fathergrabitall in Canada

    Dodgeball at 17,000 mph. -EGADS !!

    January 13, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • Alex Povolotski

      So here's what's gonna happen. Iran or Chinese defectors (who would dare to accuse mainstream China in waging cyber war) will hack into one of the orbiting satellites, will set it on a collision course with the station. The damage is done and the U.S. will use it as a pretext to roll out the space defense shield = Star Wars II.

      Oh, and we're lucky if no nuclear powered satellites will end of crashing into the ground, say, in LA...

      January 13, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
  18. pod

    That's no space station....

    January 13, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
    • luvuall

      LOL! (Even though I have a bad feeling about this...)

      January 13, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
    • drcoltrane

      oh god, yes.

      January 13, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
    • blah9999

      It's a moon!

      January 13, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
  19. Doc Brown

    1.21 Gigawatts?!?!?

    January 13, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
  20. Dan

    They should call it Operation House Keeping.

    January 13, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
  21. temple

    Have you ever seen a Google Earth image of space debris? It circles the Earth like one of Saturns rings. Anyway, yesterday I was looking up at space thru my telescope. I didn't see the 10cm piece of debris, but I did see the Soda Cup from Aqua Teen Hunger Force.

    January 13, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
    • master shake

      It's a shake cup....

      January 13, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
  22. lolsigh

    has anyone ever seen how much debris is above our planet?
    the spacestation ALWAYS "dodges" debris, I really wish CNN would hire someone with intelligence to write articles, there are much better science and space news going on.

    January 13, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • Herky515

      has anyone ever seen how much banal whining is in the comments section?
      the comment section ALWAYS has 'em, I really wish posters would use some intelligence to write commentary, there are much better science and space related opinions going on.

      January 13, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
  23. us1776

    Ok NASA, time to develop the Roomba In Space mission.

    We need to have a mission whose sole purpose is to run around and gather up all this space debris and decelerate it so it will burn up in the atmosphere.

    A little housekeeping is in order.


    January 13, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • cw

      Easier said then done... That debris is orbiting the earth at extreme velocity.

      January 13, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
    • OpsController

      NASA has no money to develop whatever mission they want to develop. If a private business were to develop "Roomba In Space", or something else that safely performed the task, that business could make a lot of money. They could sell it as a service to every spacecraft that is up there, sort of like insurance. "Pay us and we will clean up trash within your trajectory".

      January 13, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
    • Polymath

      The Roomba won't work. A vacuum cleaner depends upon the air pressure on the other side of objects to PUSH them toward the vacuum. Space already is a vacuum. You'd need rocket propulsion to fly to each and every piece of trash in tens of thousands of differing orbits. This would not cost trillions of dollars; it would cost quadrillions of dollars. It would also leave behind more junk than would be collected. There is no existing technology that can clean up space junk. Time is the only thing that will deorbit the stuff currently there. We must be more careful about leaving more litter and there must be no more stunts like China smashing one satellite with an interceptor. Eventually things would reach a point of no return like a fission nuclear bomb. The main thing space fairing nations must do is add no more junk to what is there now.

      January 13, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
    • smc

      I'm sure someday this will happen, but it is such a complex problem. The space around the planet is vast, the pieces vary greatly in size, move at very different speeds (hundreds if not thousands of mph difference) and in different directions. Most of today's space missions only rendezvous with ONE object in orbit.

      January 13, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
  24. AL

    Into the garbage chute, flyboy!

    January 13, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
  25. Josh

    Is Iridium Communications Inc.paying for this, or us tax payers?

    January 13, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • GoRemote

      So you missed the part where they were going to do the re-boost next week anyway?.......Huh.

      January 13, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
      • Tom

        The next time I run a red light, I hope I hit you. Since you were eventually going to buy another car anyway, I will not have to pay you a cent.

        January 13, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
      • Oscar

        Posted on Do you people have a afbecook fan page? I looked for one on twitter but could not discover one, I would really like to become a fan!

        April 6, 2012 at 8:06 am |
    • cw

      Yes, because we should care about cost over the lives of the astronauts. Nice values you have there.

      January 13, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
      • Tom

        So you think the company responsible should never be held accountable for the costs?

        January 13, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
      • MIkeb

        What costs? It's not like they are going to send up a refueling ship or something. They are going to do a burn with the thrusters already on board to reposition the station or use the Progress (if one is attached currently) engines as per usual. They do adjustments all the time. Just another FYI, the thrusters are on the Russian Zvezda module that was paid for by them so it won't raise your taxes you bunch of whiners.

        January 13, 2012 at 1:51 pm |

    I've got a bad feeling about this.

    January 13, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
    • J

      The odds of successfully navigating an atmospheric debris field is approximately 3720 to 1!

      January 13, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
      • AL

        "Never tell me the odds."

        January 13, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
      • B

        "What are you doing? You're not actually going into an asteroid field?"
        "They'd be crazy to follow us, wouldn't they?"

        January 13, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
      • D V

        Asteroids don't concern me admiral, I want that ship!

        January 13, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
      • Chewy


        January 13, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
      • Chet

        He can't drive! He don't even have his license Lisa! Gimmee da keys!

        January 13, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
      • Death Star Gunner

        Hold your fire? What are we charging by the laser?

        January 13, 2012 at 1:21 pm |


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