NASA SpaceX Crew-3 astronauts, who arrived to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard Crew Dragon Endurance on November 11, were scheduled to conduct a spacewalk this morning to swap a ‘faulty’ communications antenna outside the orbiting laboratory. Their spacewalk got delayed due to a potential space debris threat.
NASA astronauts Thomas Marshburn, who served as Crew-3 Dragon pilot, and Crew-3 Mission Specialist Kayla Barron were ready to put on their spacesuits to head out ISS to initiate a six-hour-long antenna replacement operation. Before they initiated the task, NASA Mission Control in Houston, Texas, talked to the astronauts working at the Space Station letting them know the spacewalk had been cancelled due to space debris that is orbiting nearby.
“NASA received a debris notification for the International Space Station. Due to the lack of opportunity to properly assess the risk it could pose to the astronauts, teams have decided to delay the spacewalk planned for Tuesday, Nov. 30 until more information is available,” the agency said in a press release.
It is unclear whether the orbiting debris is part of the space junk caused by the recent Russian Anti-Satellite Test (ASAT). During the ASAT that took place on November 15, Russia launched a missile to smash into one of its old Soviet-era satellites which created thousands of pieces of debris that the United States Department of Defense (DoD) is trying to keep track of. Russia did not inform global space agencies of its ASAT operation, causing astronauts working at the Space Station to take shelter inside their spacecraft when NASA ground control noticed the new space junk chunks orbiting the ISS every 90-minutes.
SpaceX Crew-3 astronauts took shelter inside the Crew Dragon Endurance vehicle docked at the Harmony module. The Russian cosmonauts took shelter aboard Roscosmos Soyuz. The ISS Expedition 66 crew resumed their work later in the evening, however, they were directed to close hatch sections of some portions of the station as a precaution against a potential debris impact. “There are about 1,700 new objects, larger objects that are being tracked,” Dana Weigel, NASA’s deputy manager of the space station, said on Monday during a news conference that previewed the scheduled spacewalk. “It will take a few months to get all of those cataloged and into our normal debris tracking process, where we can then assess miss distances and how close these items get to the I.S.S.”
Featured Image Source: NASA
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Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.
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