The crew of the International Space Station was forced to evacuate today after a fast-approaching piece of space junk was detected.
The six astronauts sought refuge in two Russian Soyuz spacecraft until the debris had passed at 12.08pm GMT. Radar-tracking had identified the space junk as it hurtled towards the ISS - it ended up passing within around 820ft. Once the all-clear was given, the crew returned to their duties. Safety procedures are initiated should an unidentified object be heading in the direction of the ISS. Astronauts are instructed to head to the docked spacecraft in case a quick getaway is needed. Station commander Andrey Borisenko, Alexander Samokutyaev and Ronald Garan took shelter aboard the Soyuz TMA-21 spacecraft docked to the Poisk module. Sergei Volkov, Michael Fossum and Furukawa sheltered aboard the Soyuz TMA-02M spacecraft docked to the Rassvet module. A Pentagon report warned last year that there is so much junk whizzing around Earth that any collision in space could cause a knock-on effect that would destroy vital communications satellites.Is it possible that this report is really a cover story for the cosmic disturbance coming from the dwarf star, the Sun's defensive reaction and the subsequent effects on planet Earth's magnetosphere and internal magnetic field?
Earlier this year the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Nitto Seimo Co announced a plan to solve the problem by sweeping up damaged satellites and space shuttles. They will attach the thin metal net, which is several miles wide, to a satellite and then launch the pair into space. Once in orbit, the net will be released at which point it will start picking up space junk in its path during a journey that is expected to last several weeks. The net will become charged with electricity causing magnetic fields to pulled to Earth. Both the net and its contents will burn up as they enter Earth's atmosphere. The possibility of a satellite crashing into a hunk of space debris has worried scientists for years. One collision could send thousands of pieces of debris spinning out, potentially destroying other satellites. Television signals, weather forecasts, global-positioning navigation and international phone connections are just some of the services at risk. The uncontrolled chain reaction could make some orbits unusable for both commercial or military satellites, according to the U.S Space Posture Review sent to Congress in March 2010. - Daily Mail.