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International Space Station to change orbit to avoid debris

The International Space Station is on the move.

International space station move Enlarge
The International Space Station will change orbits tomorrow to protect astronauts onboard from space debris. (AFP/Getty/AFP/Getty Images)

The International Space Station is on the move.

The Russian space program’s Mission Control Center announced Wednesday that the International Space Station will be moved into a different orbit to avoid possible collision with a fragment of debris. 

Mission Control Center spokeswoman Nadyezhda Zavyalova told the Associates Press that the Russian Zvevda module will fire booster rockets to carry out the operation Thursday at 07:22 a.m. Moscow time (0322 GMT).

The move will help to protect the six astronauts on board, three Russians, two Americans and one astronaut from Japan. 

According to the French Tribune, an evasive maneuver is only carried out if the chance of a collision falls below 1 in 10,000. 

The Voice of Russia noted UN estimates that there are an estimated 300,000 pieces of space junk, mostly parts of disused satellites and other space apparatuses, currently orbiting the Earth. But NASA believes that number to be much lower. The space agency believes there to be 21,000 fragments of orbital debris larger than 10 centimeters (3.9 inches) in earth's orbit. 

While a 10 centimeter piece of trash may not seem like much, it can in fact pack a wallop of a punch. 

According to Space.com, "In Low Earth-orbit, objects travel at 4 miles (7 kilometers) per second. At that speed, a tiny fleck of paint packs the same punch of a 550 pound object traveling at 60 miles per hour."

For more on space debris check out this video from Space.com: 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/science/121003/international-space-station-change-orbit-avoid-debris