International Space Station forced to swerve to avoid US space junk

Il International Space Station performed a manoeuvre to swerve from a fragment of a US launch vehicle, the head of Russia’s space agency has said.

Dmitry Rogozin, the director general of Roscosmos, said the station’s orbit dropped by 310 metres for almost three minutes to avoid a close encounter with a particle from the American vessel, which was sent into space in 1994.

Rogozin said the manoeuvre would not affect the launch of the Soyuz MS-20 rocket on Wednesday from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and its docking at the ISS.

Space debris, or space junk, consists of discarded launch vehicles or parts of a spacecraft that float around and risk colliding with satellites or the International Space Station.

Debris forced Nasa to postpone a spacewalk on Tuesday to replace a faulty antenna at the ISS.

US officials said last month an anti-satellite missile test carried out by Russia had generated a debris field in low-Earth orbit that endangered the ISS and would pose a hazard to space activities for years.

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