Space Station Crew Scrambles as Debris Passes Nearby
Crew members aboard the International Space Station temporarily scrambled into spacecraft capable of returning them to Earth early on Saturday as remnants of a discarded Russian satellite passed nearby, the latest episode spotlighting the growing amount of space debris encircling the planet.
The crew — three Russians, two Americans and a Dutch astronaut — climbed into the two spacecraft as the debris passed within about nine miles of the space station, at 2:38 a.m. Eastern time. Soon afterward, NASA officials allowed the astronauts to return to the station.
“Nichevo,” or nothing, one Russian astronaut was heard saying in NASA’s live online broadcast.
NASA said it did not notice the debris until Friday, too little time to put more distance between the station and the trajectory of the debris. While NASA expected the debris to pass by safely, the six astronauts — Anton Shkaplerov, Anatoly Ivanishin and Oleg Kononenko of Russia; Donald R. Pettit and Daniel C. Burbank of the United States; and André Kuipers of the Netherlands — were ordered into the Russian Soyuz spacecraft.