Yesterday morning was not an evacuation drill for the ISS crew. A piece of an old Russian satellite came hurtling towards the space station and the team had just an hour and a half to spare, which is not enough to move the station out of the way. The crew chose to seal off the modules so that they can contain the damage.
And to avoid having to desperately scour for near-Earth environment for ways to come home, they decided to lock themselves inside a Soyuz spacecraft so that they can abandon the space station if needed.
This was the fourth time in the history of the space station that the crew had to move to Soyuz for safety.
Thankfully, the old satellite ended up flying by the station without hitting it, which would’ve cost at least a billion dollar worth of equipment damage.
Usually, the ISS is warned much earlier about the debris coming their way because various organisations have been tracking space junk movement from Earth. These early warnings allow the space station to maneuver the station in case a piece of space junk is flying too close to it.
The space station is tough enough to withstand the impact of smaller debris though.
To this day, space debris remains one of the biggest threats to the ISS, and other satellites. And as more and more space junk accumulates around the orbit, the more dangerous the situation becomes. Scientists have proposed many different solutions to clear up the debris. Some of them include blasting them with lasers, or a harpoon, or cleaning them up using a Pac-Man like spacecraft.