On Thursday, June 16, a post from Space.com reveals that the International Space Station was forced to maneuver to avoid orbital debris from a recent Russian anti-satellite weapons testing.
In November 2021, Russia destroyed the Cosmos 1408 satellite from the Soviet period as part of an anti-satellite weapon test.
On Thursday, Russian space company Roscosmos utilised its uncrewed Progress 81 cargo vessel that was docked at the ISS to move the entire orbital laboratory away from the trajectory of a piece of space debris from Cosmos 1408.
Last week, the ISS performed an ''unscheduled maneuver.''
A video of the maneuver on Telegram, a social media and messaging service, shows the Progress 81 cargo ship firing its thrusters to move the ISS, which has been a focal point for tensions between Russia and the West since Russia''s invasion of Ukraine in late February.
Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Russia''s aerospace industry, suggested that the ISS fall out of the sky over Europe due to Western sanctions.
The Progress 81 cargo ship fired its thrusters for 4 minutes and 34 seconds to move its trajectory away from the Cosmos-1408 space debris. Rogozin later wrote on Telegram that "at 22.03 Moscow time, the engines of the Russian Progress MS-20 transport cargo ship completed an unscheduled maneuver to avoid a deadly approach of the International Space Station with a fragment of the Kosmos-1408 spacecraft."
Russia''s space debris highlights a larger problem.
The space agency provided a backup measure as a precautionary measure for the crew: "The crew was never in any danger," and the maneuver had no effect on station operations. Without the maneuver, it was predicted that the fragment might have passed within a half mile of the station."
Although the crew was not in imminent danger, the event revealed the possibility of space debris. It is a growing danger, with satellite launches increasing at a massive scale, with the likes of SpaceX Starlink and competitors sending mega-constellations into orbit at a rapid rate.
The Cosmos-1408 satellite was intentionally destroyed on November 15, 2021, and it produced 1,500 pieces of space debris. Astronauts were forced to flee the ISS at the time due to concerns the debris might cause damage to the orbital lab. Over the years, experts have warned that the debris could pose a threat to the ISS for years to come.