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ISS Crew Takes Shelter as Russian Satellite Breaks Up in Space

The International Space Station. NASA

Astronauts on board the International Space Station (ISS) briefly took shelter after a Russian satellite broke into pieces in Earth’s orbit, the American space agency NASA said Thursday.

“NASA instructed crews aboard the space station to shelter in their respective spacecraft as a standard precautionary measure after it was informed of a satellite break-up at an altitude near the station’s earlier Wednesday,” the U.S. agency’s ISS account wrote on X (formerly Twitter).

“Mission Control continued to monitor the path of the debris, and after about an hour, the crew was cleared to exit their spacecraft and the station resumed normal operations,” it said, adding that the safety instructions were issued shortly after 4:00 a.m. Moscow time.

Reuters reported that U.S. Space Command said its radars had detected “over 100 pieces of trackable debris” from the break-up of the Russian Resurs P1 Earth observation satellite — which has been non-operational since 2021 — at around 3:00 a.m. Moscow time.

LeoLabs, a U.S. space-tracking company, said the Resurs P1 had released “a number of fragments” between 4:05 p.m. Wednesday and 3:51 a.m. Thursday Moscow time.

U.S. Space Command said there was no immediate threat from the debris, according to Reuters.

Russia’s space agency Roscosmos has not commented on the reports of the satellite break-up.

Launched in 2013, the 6,000-kilogram remote sensing satellite was decommissioned in December 2021 due to a failure of onboard equipment, according to its maker, the Progress Rocket Space Center. 

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