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ISS Nearly Clobbered By Space Debris

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the shades-of-kessler dept.

ISS 131

erice writes "A chuck of space debris came within 335 meters of the space station, forcing the crews to head to their escape capsules and prepare for emergency evacuation to Earth. '[NASA's] Associate Administrator for Space Operations, Bill Gerstenmaier, said it was the closest a debris object had ever come to the station. An analysis was now underway to try to understand its origin, he added.'"

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A Chuck...? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36608268)

What about a Bob or a John of space debris? Hmmmm?

Re:A Chuck...? (1)

Cryacin (657549) | more than 3 years ago | (#36608332)

Turned out to be a duck instead.

Re:A Chuck...? (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 3 years ago | (#36608424)

Damn. I was hoping it would be a coyote!

Re:A Chuck...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36609116)

...it's not the 25th and a half Century!

Re:A Chuck...? (1)

justsayin (2246634) | more than 3 years ago | (#36609410)

Well, if it looks like a duck and it sounds like a duck,...

Re:A Chuck...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36609548)

Then it's a witch!

Re:A Chuck...? (1)

RL78 (1968236) | more than 3 years ago | (#36610302)

Beat me to it.

Good (2)

kdougherty (772195) | more than 3 years ago | (#36608276)

I'm glad no harm came to the crew, but its good that an occurrence of this sort happened without injuring anyone. Maybe now they will start to develop smarter technology to help prevent disasters such as this in space.

Re:Good (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36608394)

You mean, "maybe now the Chinese will stop blowing up their own satellites as a show of strength"? Yeah, fat chance - it's not like China has any space station that might be at risk.

Re:Good (2)

rbrausse (1319883) | more than 3 years ago | (#36608556)

You mean, "maybe now the Chinese will stop blowing up their own satellites as a show of strength"?

the debris cloud of Fengyun 1-C was only 17% of the trackable debris [nasa.gov] in Aug 2007 :)

Yeah, fat chance - it's not like China has any space station that might be at risk.

You are aware that China is building it's own station? And that in 2007 the country tried to become a partner of the ISS (with positive reactions from Russia and the ESA) but was not invited [space.com] ?

Re:Good (5, Insightful)

paiute (550198) | more than 3 years ago | (#36609386)

You mean, "maybe now the Chinese will stop blowing up their own satellites as a show of strength"?

the debris cloud of Fengyun 1-C was only 17% of the trackable debris [nasa.gov] in Aug 2007 :)

Only? Humans have been putting junk into earth orbit for half a century. That a one-time event now accounts for 17% of all trackable debris is actually kind of shocking.

Re:Good (1)

rbrausse (1319883) | more than 3 years ago | (#36610442)

how ironic that comments with an irony marker are taken completely serious....

btw, the NASA document is a quite interesting read - the debris statistic started in 1961, of the total of nearly 13k trackable objects are a little bit over 7k now either outside of GEO or dropped backed to earth. The amount is surprisingly low, I expected much more objects; even considering the difficulties identifying the pieces, the Kessler effect seems top be exaggerated.

otoh, a single Ariane 5 launch (costs ~ US$ 160m) could transport over 16k Aluminum spheres with an diameter of 10 cm (minimum size for identifying debris according to the NASA pdf) to a LEO, a *very* interesting price for playing havoc with satellite-dependent businesses and military. And why stop at using solid objects? An optimized design could add much more debris - the biggest payload fairing has an usable volume of 200m^3

Re:Good (3, Insightful)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 3 years ago | (#36609462)

the debris cloud of Fengyun 1-C was only 17% of the trackable debris [nasa.gov] in Aug 2007 :)

Are you serious? We've been getting stuff to space for 67 years (Germany's V-2 launch in 1944) and one even accounts for almost 1/5 of all trackabe debris?

And you call that *only*.

Re:Good (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#36609082)

Maybe now they will start to develop smarter technology to help prevent disasters such as this in space.

I bet you the answer is going to be "space is a bad and dangerous place, let's not go there anymore".

Re:Good (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 3 years ago | (#36609250)

Which would be good. Start exploring the oceans ! There is alien life there ! There are exploitable riches there ! There are artefacts from lost civilizations there ! (yeah, sunken ships with archaelogical treasures onboard)

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36609288)

For the current method of exploration (wait until some company finds a way to make it profitable, then copy exploit the hell out of it), space seems better suited. The asteroid belt has the potential to be a good mining location for minerals that aren't trapped under 6300 km of rock

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36610222)

Instead, they're trapped behind 100s of millions of kilometers of NOTHING. It's not any better. You can't make that profitable vs. simply recycling the materials we already refined on Earth. You guys are deluded.

Re:Good (1)

foniksonik (573572) | more than 3 years ago | (#36609480)

Can't do it. Too much junk. Too dangerous.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36609944)

It's also a desolate, empty, radiation-blasted hazardous place. What's the appeal? Seriously? We don't go much to the bottom of the ocean either. So WHAT!?

Unacceptable (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36608284)

Clearly we need astronauts who are better at playing Asteroids.

Re:Unacceptable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36608372)

How big was the debris? Have they tried to use the tractor beam?

Re:Unacceptable (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#36608986)

Nah the old man disabled it.

Re:Unacceptable (1)

jmd_akbar (1777312) | more than 3 years ago | (#36609018)

Well, then reenable it!! It's there under Options!

:D

Re:Unacceptable (2)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#36609060)

There are too many options. Whose idea was it to use Eclipse as the UI for the ISS anyway?

Re:Unacceptable (2)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 3 years ago | (#36609542)

Their only other choice was Windows 7, problem was last time they tried it they were locked out of doing anything until someone gave their credit card to a Russian website to start the cleaning process....

Re:Unacceptable (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36609164)

We need astronauts who read/watch Planetes: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planetes

It is a story about people who collect space debris in the future.

This is madness ? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36608314)

Yes !

How was it discovered? (1)

Bromskloss (750445) | more than 3 years ago | (#36608316)

I skimmed the article, but I don't see that they mention how they noticed the debris. How was that done? Because they crew went into the escape capsules, you'd think it was detected i advance. How long in advance? Otherwise, perhaps they just felt that after one piece had already passed them, others were likely to follow, motivating the emergency readyness.

Re:How was it discovered? (5, Interesting)

agentgonzo (1026204) | more than 3 years ago | (#36608454)

NORAD tracks as much space objects and debris as it can. There's a lot of stuff up there and it's constantly changing orbits in a slightly unpredictable way due to variable drag from the atmosphere. This object (NORAD designator 82618) has a drag coefficient 175 times greater than that of the ISS so it was hard to predict in advance that it would be that close. The ISS crew got notice a little over two hours before the encounter at about 2200 GMT (UTC) last night and it cleared the ISS at 0008GMT this morning.

Re:How was it discovered? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36608808)

Sorry but in what way 8 minutes past midnight is 'morning'?

Re:How was it discovered? (1)

gringer (252588) | more than 3 years ago | (#36608846)

it cleared the ISS at 0008GMT this morning

Sorry but in what way 8 minutes past midnight is 'morning'?

In the Hong Kong or Tokyo way (or pick some other country in a similar area of the world).

Re:How was it discovered? (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 3 years ago | (#36609570)

In hongkong or toyoko 0008GMT is the middle of the day.

Do you even know what GMT is? Greenwich Mean Time.... http://wwp.greenwichmeantime.com/what-is-gmt/ [greenwichmeantime.com]

Greenwich England... I.E. 0008GMT is 8 minutes past midnight in Greenwich England. NOT Tokyo or Hong Kong.

I strongly suggest you learn about time and how it's measured on this planet.

Re:How was it discovered? (1)

taiwanjohn (103839) | more than 3 years ago | (#36608992)

Thanks for the info. Do you happen to know the relative velocity between the two in this near-miss?

Re:How was it discovered? (1)

agentgonzo (1026204) | more than 3 years ago | (#36609304)

Unfortunately not. I can't find any data on the subject or TLEs (NORAD's Two Line Elements that describe the orbit) for the debris.

Re:How was it discovered? (1)

strack (1051390) | more than 3 years ago | (#36609456)

you can be pretty much guranteed its enough.

Re:How was it discovered? (2)

agentgonzo (1026204) | more than 3 years ago | (#36609990)

Orbital speeds (as opposed to velocities) are the same for the same shaped-orbits (which LEO ones pretty much are) so the only variable is direction of motion. Relative velocities can be anywhere from a few feet per second (if the orbits are almost exactly aligned) to a theoretical maximum of about 15,000m/s if the were in a head-on collision (unlikely). I'd guess that it was somewhere in the region of 3-10km/s relative velocity.

For reference, the collision of Iridium 33 and Kosmos-2251 [wikipedia.org] in 2009 was at a relative velocity of 11.7km/s (42,120 kmph or 26,170 mph). Plenty enough to destroy that section of the ISS if it hit.

Re:How was it discovered? (1)

scubamage (727538) | more than 3 years ago | (#36610060)

Well the ISS at least was going 27,724kph (source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Space_Station [wikipedia.org] ). It's mass is over 400 metric tons. So if the object was stationary, using mv^2/2, we're looking at 153724035200000 joules. This could go up or go down based on the speed and vector of the other body. Slashdot nerds, please tear apart my math. I'm doing this on the fly so I probably made a mistake.

Re:How was it discovered? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#36608996)

I wouldn't be surprised if the ISS detected it on their own radar. I would have a pretty doppler signature.

Re:How was it discovered? (2)

G-forze (1169271) | more than 3 years ago | (#36609634)

I would have a pretty doppler signature.

Nothing personal, but I really doubt that.

Re:How was it discovered? (1)

nitehawk214 (222219) | more than 3 years ago | (#36610912)

I would have a pretty doppler signature.

Nothing personal, but I really doubt that.

Yeah, doppler isn't a adjective.

Origin? (3, Funny)

Macrat (638047) | more than 3 years ago | (#36608318)

An analysis was now underway to try to understand its origin.

A small planet called Krypton.

Maybe it was an asteroid? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36608330)

Supposedly, one was due to visit recently...

Shielding Technology Need (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36608338)

This is why we need _some_ kind of usable shielding technology (plasma cloud held in place by magnetic fields, energy bubble, whatever, etc. ) else space travel will predicatively unsafe. Even Low-Earth orbit that the ISS flies in isn't safe without it.

Re:Shielding Technology Need (3, Insightful)

jpapon (1877296) | more than 3 years ago | (#36608428)

Even Low-Earth orbit that the ISS flies in isn't safe without it.

Actually, I would guess that LEO is the most dangerous places to be, debris-wise. All debris has to pass through LEO eventually as it enters the atmosphere, and it has the smallest volume of space, so statistically speaking, I'd think the chances of getting hit are by far the highest in LEO.

Re:Shielding Technology Need (2)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#36608660)

Wouldn't LEO be safer because the drag there is much higher, so debris will quickly pass through and fall down to Earth? Unlike GEOish-orbits where I got the impression it'd be circling for a very long time.

Re:Shielding Technology Need (1)

jpapon (1877296) | more than 3 years ago | (#36609374)

I'm not sure, but remember that the volume of space goes up cubicly, so it would take quite a bit of debris to make up for the vastness of GEO compared to LEO.

Re:Shielding Technology Need (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 3 years ago | (#36609596)

Up in GEO the debris are much more organized, they roam the area looking for targets and pillage... If we are lucky they will kill us first...

Re:Shielding Technology Need (2)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 3 years ago | (#36609036)

Problem is the HOW. E.g. a plasma cloud wouldn't really help much against high speed debris as they'd just punch through it with their sheer force, even if they do get vaporized they'd likely still hit the hull in that extremely hot state and cause a lot of damage (there's a concept for combining electric reactive armor with a strong magnetic field for tanks so projectiles are turned into plasma and the magnets assist with the deflection but I'm not sure that would stop a modern AP shell and I'm not sure how those even compare to space debris). I don't think there's a real concept for how energy bubbles could even work.

If we could deliver payload to space more easily we could possibly build heavy armor on our spacecrafts that may be able to take some bigger hits than the current stuff (spacecrafts and suits are already armored with a thick foam layer but that won't stop more than tiny, low energy debris).

Re:Shielding Technology Need (1)

wisty (1335733) | more than 3 years ago | (#36610134)

A rail gun might work.

Re:Shielding Technology Need (1)

John Bresnahan (638668) | more than 3 years ago | (#36609206)

We've been sending people into space for almost 50 years, and none of their vehicles have ever been disabled by impact with either man-made space junk or meteoroids.

This probably isn't even near the top of the list of things to worry about.

It's origin... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36608446)

I'm going to just go out on a limb here and say I'm pretty sure the debris came from space. It is an object with an infinite amount of possibilities regarding it's place of origin. It is probably too far away from the ISS to get a good look at it, so there won't be any sort of analysis on the physical comp of the rock. I doubt there were little green aliens hanging onto the side of it, so it's probably not from somewhere that we're actually interested.

Re:It's origin... (2)

agentgonzo (1026204) | more than 3 years ago | (#36608470)

It's by far more likely that the debris is from something the human race has launched into space. It's in low Earth orbit. Pretty much everything that comes from outer space either flies past the earth (see yesterday's encounter with 2011 MD) or slams into it as a shooting star (meteor/meteorite). Something from outer space has to lose an awful lot of speed just as it passes the Earth to end up in Low Earth orbit, which just doesn't happen.

Re:It's origin... (4, Funny)

Rashdot (845549) | more than 3 years ago | (#36608558)

Maybe it was an excess apostrophe.

A probable source of debris (1)

Artem Tashkinov (764309) | more than 3 years ago | (#36608448)

Debris From Satellites' Collision Said to Pose Small Risk to Space Station [washingtonpost.com]

It seems like the risk isn't that small after all.

Re:A probable source of debris (1)

RoboRay (735839) | more than 3 years ago | (#36609470)

The term "risk" is generally considered to include not only severity of an incident but also it's probability. In the case of an on-orbit collision, while the severity of an impact can be extremely high, the probability of it actually occurring is vanishingly low.

Of course, there's no reason to take chances with life-or-death situations, so risk-management policies in place require the crew to take shelter when objects do come near the station.

I get that space is big and all... (2)

niftydude (1745144) | more than 3 years ago | (#36608504)

But how is just over one third of a kilometer considered a near miss?

Re:I get that space is big and all... (2)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#36608534)

But how is just over one third of a kilometer considered a near miss?

Near miss? Good God... TF title says "clobbered" - I thought many pieces of debris battered ISS for long hours.

Re:I get that space is big and all... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36608694)

Actually, TF says "nearly clobbered", which I think is fair, given the scale of things in space (large) and the unpredictability of the debris' trajectory (larger than usual, it seems).

Re:I get that space is big and all... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36608592)

I don't think you get that space is big and all.

Re:I get that space is big and all... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36608594)

It's not so much that the distance was small, but that the warning was on short notice. It takes time to move the station orbit up (or down, but usually up) significantly enough to reduce the probability of the item hitting the station. the relative speeds up there might be quite high, so even a small piece of debris could be like a bullet.

Re:I get that space is big and all... (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 3 years ago | (#36609622)

Why?

why cant they push a button and fire the station keeping jets to move it? I dont understand why it takes 2 fricking days to get around to pushing a freaking button. Yes I know the ISS is a wierd shape and the computer needs to fire ALL the station keeping jets at the same time and at the correct impulse, but honestly they cant figure that out ahead of time and have one ready on the big red "OH CRAP!" button?

Re:I get that space is big and all... (1)

mr1911 (1942298) | more than 3 years ago | (#36610874)

Great idea, except since the trajectory of the debris is difficult to predict, your "oh crap" button might just push you directly into the object's path instead of away from it.

Or maybe rocket scientists are completely oblivious to all the easy answers pontificated by armchair astronauts that know absolutely nothing about flying space stations.

Re:I get that space is big and all... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36608604)

It's a near miss because at the speeds and distances involved, the object's trajectory can't be predicted accurately enough to preclude a collision. The margin of error in the measurement when there's still enough time for evacuation or evasive maneuvers includes the possibility of a collision. When something misses you by just 400 meters while traveling at 8000 meters per second and the only information you had about the object is from radar stations 300km away, you consider yourself lucky. (For comparison: You get a warning that a car 90 miles away is heading straight for you at 45mph and two hours later it misses you by just one yard. Near miss or not?)

Re:I get that space is big and all... (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#36609114)

You get a warning that a car 90 miles away is heading straight for you at 45mph and two hours later it misses you by just one yard. Near miss or not?

I love to nitpick. Actually to follow your example, the car would have to miss you by 2.25 miles, using the same proportions of your first example. I wouldn't consider that a "near miss" by any means. In fact considering I live about 1500m from a highway, I get these sorts of "near misses" all the time.

Re:I get that space is big and all... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36609200)

Sorry, but your nitpick fails in the correctness department. 45mph is 22 yards per second. 400/8000=1/20, so a miss by 1.1 yard results in the same distance/speed ratio.

Re:I get that space is big and all... (4, Funny)

NoZart (961808) | more than 3 years ago | (#36608744)

Exactly! It should be called a near hit!!!!! (George Carlin)

Re:I get that space is big and all... (1)

infolation (840436) | more than 3 years ago | (#36608910)

The ISS is slightly larger than a full-sized football field. So 335 meters is only about 3 time the length of the ISS lengths away.

Re:I get that space is big and all... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36608980)

- Space debris is coming towards you at a speed of thousands of metres per second with a unpredictable trajectory
- The astronauts are in a pressurised tin can sitting in a vacuum, any damage to which could be fatal

Given the the above, and the vastness of the space above the earth, how close would *you* happily let something pass by without having to worry?

Re:I get that space is big and all... (1)

Provocateur (133110) | more than 3 years ago | (#36609154)

You left out one other critical item:

-None of the astronauts were carrying their insurance cards in their wallets when they left earth.

Re:I get that space is big and all... (4, Informative)

Bengie (1121981) | more than 3 years ago | (#36609266)

In the vastness of our skies, two airplanes coming within a mile of each other is close. Now imagine being ~170mi above the Earth.

On the Discovery Channel, they showed a picture of what a 1/2 inch flake of paint can do at those speeds. It left a 3 inch crater about 1/4 deep in the aluminum wing of the Shuttle.

Wiki has a nice pic of what a 7gram object can do: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:SDIO_KEW_Lexan_projectile.jpg [wikipedia.org]

Re:I get that space is big and all... (1)

SeeSp0tRun (1270464) | more than 3 years ago | (#36609764)

I'm sorry, something about "General Motors" and "Weapons Testing Facility" just doesn't make me warm and fuzzy inside.
I can see the similarities though... the only thing their cars are good for are going fast in a straight line, and crashing.

Re:I get that space is big and all... (1)

SeeSp0tRun (1270464) | more than 3 years ago | (#36609774)

Sorry, mis-quoted wiki... in any case, weapons are being tested at General Motors (?).

Re:I get that space is big and all... (1)

fotbr (855184) | more than 3 years ago | (#36610140)

Depending on what they needed for test equipment and room to work, it might have fit the needs without needing to make a more expensive trip out to the desert somewhere.

Also, I think I want one of those "light gas guns" and a supply of those lexan projectiles. It looks like it would make short work of the occasional wannabe thugmobile that "cruises" the neighborhood to wake people up at 3 am with really crappy bass.

Re:I get that space is big and all... (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 3 years ago | (#36610892)

the only thing their cars are good for are going fast in a straight line, and crashing.

That's not entirely true. The Corvette is also good for turning, stopping, treating midlife crises, and making gas, brakes and tires disappear in the blink of an eye :-P

Re:I get that space is big and all... (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 3 years ago | (#36609816)

But how is just over one third of a kilometer considered a near miss?

Because space junk is hard to detect, which makes it hard to predict its path. In other words, the debris was within their margins of error. That's why they thought it was prudent to put the astronauts into their escape pods.

That said, you're not wrong that the headline was sensationalist. Even NASA said this was never an emergency in their books. Just a precaution.

Re:I get that space is big and all... (1)

Dr La (1342733) | more than 3 years ago | (#36609970)

Remember that we are talking about stuff that moves at 7.5 km per second. With a fraction of a second uncertainty in the orbit, those 335 meter could have been reduced to zero meter. Assuming the 335 meter was right in the fligthpath of ISS rather than above or under it, 335 meter represents a difference of 0.04 seconds in time....

Re:I get that space is big and all... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36610764)

While the distance is very close by orbital standards I'm noticing a disturbing lack of an estimation of its relative speed. While I am assuming it was traveling more than a few miles an hour this may not be as dangerous as advertised, a baseball sized piece of debris traveling at 100MPH would pose no real threat to ISS, a marble sized piece of debris traveling at 10,000MPH would.

Re:I get that space is big and all... (1)

sootman (158191) | more than 3 years ago | (#36610792)

I wouldn't have said 1/3 km, I would have said "about 350 meters or 1100 feet." Sounds a lot closer.

Magnetize! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36608532)

Silly question... Why not send a big magnet into space to catch all the floating debris and bring it back to earth for recycling, or at least burning it up in the atmosphere? At least that won't clobber the multi-billion dollar ISS when its back down here...

Re:Magnetize! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36608588)

Yeah, instead you have the problem of creating a multi-billion dollar GIANT SPACE MAGNET. Much more manageable.

Re:Magnetize! (2)

dbIII (701233) | more than 3 years ago | (#36608652)

Yes, a giant magnet that can also attract aluminium, titanium, gold, austenitic stainless steel and all that other stuff normal magnets can't catch. Why not make it a monopole while we are at it :)

Re:Magnetize! (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 3 years ago | (#36609358)

But gravity would do that, right? So let's just hold a huge mass sufficiently close to those objects to change their flight path... Maybe in circles around our huge mass.

Re:Magnetize! (3, Funny)

Alsee (515537) | more than 3 years ago | (#36609998)

A South monopole or a North monopole would get pulled towards the earth's North or South pole. If we want it to keep going around in orbit we better make it an East or West monopole :)

-

Re:Magnetize! (1)

AlecC (512609) | more than 3 years ago | (#36608680)

Satellites are mostly built of light-weight, non magnetic materials such as aluminium.
Magnets suffer from inverse square law problems: the largest magnets on earth have an operating range of inches, maybe a few feet.
Because everything in orbit is travelling at high relative speeds, the amount of time any bit of debris spent within the "capture region" of a magnet would be milliseconds at best, not lone enough to match energies.

How to repair it without a space shuttle? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36608900)

Okay, suppose for a moment that a piece of debris hit. It causes a significant leak so the station is evacuated and all the astronauts and cosmonauts go home. But the damage isn't so severe that the station is a total write-off.

Without a space shuttle and thus without the ability to park another vehicle close by (most likely docked but with the hatches closed) from where you can do spacewalks, how are we going to repair the ISS? Or do the Russians have this capability?

Or is the ISS an automatic write-off in case of a loss of air pressure?

Re:How to repair it without a space shuttle? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#36609020)

The module on Mir which was holed in a collision was a write off, so I think it is likely the ISS would be as well. Probably a lot of gear inside the station would be written off by exposure to vacuum. The lack of cooling would destroy electronics, for example, but the same gear would be kept running for a long as possible to aid in the escape. I think repopulating the ISS would be very expensive, difficult and dangerous.

Re:How to repair it without a space shuttle? (1)

MrQuacker (1938262) | more than 3 years ago | (#36609032)

Its compartmentalized, so if one module is lost the others can be sealed off and continue being used. If all modules are punctured in one event, then yes, total loss is probable.

Surprised ISS has lasted this long... (1)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 3 years ago | (#36609478)

...without getting clobbered by space debris, or more accurately, our own space junk.

Statistics I had heard years ago spoke of some 8,000 objects that NORAD tracks in our orbit. I'm certain that number has grown significantly since then, but I wonder how much of that we have been responsible for putting up there? Seems our habits in space tend to mirror our (bad) habits on earth.

shields? Laser? Tractor Beam? (1)

sunfly (1248694) | more than 3 years ago | (#36609558)

Where is the offense and defense?

Its origin??? (1)

davidbrit2 (775091) | more than 3 years ago | (#36609590)

Am I to believe that "outer space" is not the current front-runner in the list of possibilities?

"... the crews to head to their escape capsules" (1)

RevWaldo (1186281) | more than 3 years ago | (#36609668)

I hope I'm not the only one that read that and thought "Escape capsules? Oh, that is awesome!" Please tell me there's video. Are they all acting calmly and reasonably as expected, or is one of them going "Game over, man! GAME OVER!"?

Yes, I'm glad they weren't actually hit. But in a world where we have PEOPLE! IN! SPACE! and 99.9999% of the population doesn't know their names (me included), a little drama once in awhile isn't such a bad thing.

.

Lasers (1)

Lord Lode (1290856) | more than 3 years ago | (#36609724)

It's time they add lasers to the ISS, to shoot away that kind of stuff.

Re:Lasers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36609826)

Or a respectable deflector shield...

Re:Lasers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36610686)

Or a respectable deflector shield.

Probably belongs to us (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36609726)

That chunk of "debris" is probably a piece of some secret equipment put up there by a government agency with its head so far up its ass that it wouldn't admit to it and would rather let it destroy the ISS than warn or coordinate.

So what (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36609870)

Gee ... like 100 chunks of debris were in the same lane as my car this morning...far closer to smacking into it... sometimes less than a meter

Bigelow (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 3 years ago | (#36609954)

Once Bigelow builds their space station, it will be above most of this. That will help a lot of things, though you still have to travel up there.

Origin obvious (1, Troll)

BForrester (946915) | more than 3 years ago | (#36610240)

[NASA's] Associate Administrator for Space Operations, Bill Gerstenmaier, said it was the closest a debris object had ever come to the station. An analysis was now underway to try to understand its origin, he added.

My understanding is that the station mostly originated in the US and Russia, with help from about sixteen other countries. NASA's Associate Administrator for Space Operations should really know this, or at least be able to look this up on Wikipedia.

Fail Subject (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36610316)

clobbered? Not hardly, it was 4 inches big, probably not much larger than the OP's penis.
It probably would of flew right through the station, not clobbered it. fucking sensationalists

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