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Space Junk May Require ISS Maneuver In Advance of SpaceX's Dragon 47

Posted by timothy
from the always-something dept.
SpaceX's Dragon capsule, loaded with food and scientific gear, is scheduled to launch toward the ISS tomorrow evening (with backup launch slots on each of the following two days). There's a last-minute wrinkle, though: Space.com managing editor Tariq Malik reports that a piece of space debris "will pass near enough to the space station on Monday morning (Oct. 8) to require an avoidance maneuver as a safety precaution, NASA space station program manager Mike Suffredini said in a briefing [Saturday]." Tomorrow's planned flight is to be the first under a $1.6 billion contract with NASA that calls for a dozen resupply flights by SpaceX, essential in the post-shuttle era."
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Space Junk May Require ISS Maneuver In Advance of SpaceX's Dragon

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  • This is normal. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Sarten-X (1102295) on Saturday October 06, 2012 @11:45PM (#41574267) Homepage

    I was under the impression that maneuvers like this happen every few months or so, so this really isn't a big deal at all. In fact, TFA says so:

    NASA and its space station partners regularly move the space station when a piece of debris is expected to pass inside a preset safety perimeter. That safety zone is shaped like a pizza box and extends out 15 miles (25 kilometers) to either side, as well as a half-mile (0.75 km) above and below the station.

  • Re:This is normal. (Score:5, Informative)

    by commlinx (1068272) on Sunday October 07, 2012 @12:35AM (#41574459) Journal

    That safety zone is shaped like a pizza box and extends out 15 miles (25 kilometers) to either side, as well as a half-mile (0.75 km) above and below the station.

    I wonder why it's shaped like a pizza box?

    I guess the forward deflector array must be more effective on the vertical plane but anyone know for sure?

  • Re:This is normal. (Score:5, Informative)

    by camperdave (969942) on Sunday October 07, 2012 @02:46AM (#41574965) Journal
    My guess would be the limitations of radar. It is fairly easy to peg the orbital altitude from ground radar. However, it takes several readings to get the entire orbital ephemeris, especially if the object is small. As the parent post said, an object in orbit is travelling at much greater speeds horizontally than vertically, so the margin for error is greater horizontally rather than vertically.

Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurence of the improbable. - H. L. Mencken

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