Space junk forces astronauts to delay spacewalk to replace antenna

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Cape Canaveral, Fla. NASA called off a spacewalk Tuesday because space junk could be dangerous enough to puncture an astronaut’s suit or damage the International Space Station.

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Two American astronauts were slated to replace malfunctioning antennas on the outside of the space station. But late Monday, Mission Control learned that a piece of orbiting debris could be coming dangerously close. There was not enough time to assess the danger, so station managers delayed the spacewalk until Thursday.

This is the first time a spacewalk has been canceled due to a threat from space junk.


The space station and seven of its crew have been at increased risk from space junk since Russia destroyed a satellite in a missile test two weeks ago.

It was not immediately clear whether the Russian satellite of concern was part of the debris. During a news conference on Monday, NASA officials said the November 15 missile test resulted in at least 1,700 satellite fragments large enough to track, and thousands too small to land, but nonetheless in the suit of a spacewalker. were able to pierce.

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Astronauts Tom Marshburn and Kayla Barron faced a 7 percent higher risk of spacewalk punctures caused by Russian-born debris, NASA officials said. But he added that it is still within acceptable limits based on past experience.

Marshburn and Barron arrived at the space station earlier this month.

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