Satellite space debris forces ISS astronauts to seek shelter in anchored capsules

On Monday, astronauts on the International Space Station had to look for safety in their transport ship when the station passed uncomfortably near a field of orbital debris. According to , the U.S. space command began tracking space debris in the early hours of the morning. The situation caused the station to pass a field of debris every 90 minutes, forcing those on board to close and reopen several compartments several times during the day. Four American, one German and two Russian astronauts on the ISS will have to remain on standby for the next few days.

“Thank you for a crazy but well-coordinated day, we really appreciate all the situation you’ve given us,” U.S. astronaut Mark Vande Hei told NASA mission control before he and other crew members went to bed at 12 p.m. EST. “It was definitely a great way to connect as a crew, starting on the first working day in space.” Four astronauts arrived at the station late last week.

Neither NASA nor the U.S. government have said what created the debris field that put the ISS in danger. However, later in the day, the US State Department condemned the test of the Russian rocket that destroyed one of the country’s own satellites and created more than 1,500 pieces of orbital waste that can be tracked. “The test will significantly increase the risk for astronauts and cosmonauts on the International Space Station, as well as for other human space flight activities,” said State Department spokesman Ned Price. “Russia’s dangerous and irresponsible behavior threatens the long-term viability of space and makes it clear that Russia’s claims to oppose space armaments are dishonest and hypocritical.”

The State Department said the United States would work with its allies to respond to Russia’s act. Per Reuters, the country has not yet commented on the incident.

Together with their partners, NASA and the Russian space agency Roscosmos often relocate the International Space Station to avoid oncoming space debris. They did so last week when the station was threatened by fragments of a Chinese satellite that was destroyed in a rocket test in 2007.

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