NASA: Space station crew seeks safety in 'lifeboat'
Astronauts take shelter in Soyuz spacecraft when space junk hurtles toward the orbiter
Computerworld - The six-person crew of the International Space Station was forced to take shelter this morning in a "lifeboat" when space debris came dangerously close to the orbiter.
NASA reported Tuesday that the crew sought shelter in the Russian Soyuz TMA-21 spacecraft, which is docked to the station's Poisk module, after learning that space junk was hurtling toward the space station. The crew entered the spacecraft at approximately 7:50 a.m. Eastern time and stayed inside for about 20 minutes.
If the space station had been hit by the space junk and badly damaged, the astronauts would have traveled home in the Soyuz spacecraft. However, the debris hurtled past, missing the orbiter by about 820 feet, NASA said. No one was injured, and there was no damage.
NASA reported that Mission Control did not find out that the space debris was approaching the station until it was too late to maneuver the orbiter out of the way.
Stephanie Schierholz, a NASA spokeswoman, called Tuesday's safety precautions a rare event, noting that astronauts have only been forced to seek shelter in the Russian spacecraft one other time.
"It's a combination of safety and being in a return vehicle, which is their emergency lifeboat," Schierholz told Compuerworld. "If for some reason they needed to return to Earth, they would already be in their vehicle."
Schierholz said NASA scientists still aren't sure what the debris was and haven't yet said how big it was.
The last time the space station crew had to move into the Soyuz capsule was March 2009, when a piece of an old rocket motor that was used to push a satellite higher into orbit came dangerously close to the space station.
That piece of space junk measured only about one-third of an inch in size, but NASA noted that an object the size of a grain of sand could cause serious damage to the space station because of the high velocity at which things travel in space.
Now that the space station has received an all-clear from Mission Control, the astronauts onboard have been able to get back to work preparing for the arrival of the crew of the space shuttle Atlantis in a few weeks.
Atlantis is expected to lift off on its final mission July 8. The Atlantis mission will be the last space shuttle flight, since that fleet is being retired after 30 years of service.
Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more about Emerging Technologies in Computerworld's Emerging Technologies Topic Center.
This pilot fish is a contractor at a military base, working on some very cool fire-control systems for tanks. But when he spots something obviously wrong during a live-fire test, he can't get the firing-range commander's attention.
- IT Certification Study Tips
- Register for this Computerworld Insider Study Tip guide and gain access to hundreds of premium content articles, cheat sheets, product reviews and more.
- Reduce federal infrastructure risk with compliance management and situational awareness
- IBM continuous monitoring and management solutions deliver real-time situational awareness to help federal agencies understand vulnerabilities, and protect the infrastructure.
- Comprehensive Advanced Threat Defense
- The hot topic in the information security industry these days is "Advanced Threat Defense" (ATD). This paper describes a comprehensive, network-based approach to...
- Advanced Threat Defense: A Comprehensive Approach
- In this interview, Peter George, president, General Dynamics Fidelis Cybersecurity Solutions, explains why we need more than anti-malware, and what constitutes a comprehensive...
- Market Overview: Digital Customer Experience Delivery Platforms
- Forrester states that businesses today struggle to understand and use the tools necessary to create and manage unified, multichannel digital customer experiences across...
- The Growing Demand for Rich Media
- This white paper discusses how IBM Customer Experience Suite Rich Media Edition can automate rich media workflows, from collaborating with creative agencies and... All Government IT White Papers
- On-demand webinar - 7 Keys to Service Catalog Implementation Success Watch this webinar to learn 7 crucial keys to make your service catalog a success!
- Transform Your IT Service Management Watch this webinar, to learn how EasyVista can increase IT productivity & efficiency and deliver streamlined & integrated IT Service & Asset Mgmt.
- IBM FlashSystem V840: Leveraging Software-Defined Flash to Drive Your Business With end-to-end, tightly integrated functionality and super-fast flash technology, products like IBM FlashSystem V840 Enterprise Performance Solution empower businesses to leverage the efficiency...
- Leveraging Flash Storage to Accelerate Oracle Real Application Clusters Join this webinar to understand the latest solid-state storage trends, the specific applications driving solid-state storage deployments and the benefits of deploying the...
- Top 4 Digital Signage Fails Join RMG Networks for a look at four of the most common reasons digital signage fails in corporate businesses. Learn about strategies to...
- All Government IT Webcasts