The U.S. space agency is monitoring a piece of space junk that could impact the ISS

NASA is now monitoring a piece of space trash that may force a shift in position for the International Space Station and shuttle Discovery, which is currently docked at the ISS.

An old piece of metal from the Ariane 5 rocket body will fly by the ISS sometime on Friday, with it reaching its closest point just 6.2 miles away from the ISS.  The size of the space junk remains unknown, though a decision will be made later this evening.

"We may not have to do any maneuver," NASA spokesperson Rob Navias said during a press conference.  "We will be analyzing the data and watching this object closely over the next 24 hours before any decision will have to be made."

Discovery Commander Rick Sturckow and others currently working aboard the ISS have been informed of the piece of space junk, and are awaiting further instructions.

The issue of space junk is a popular topic among space experts, as there has been a dramatic increase in space junk floating dangerously close to the ISS.  Earlier in the year, the U.S. Air Force set aside up to $500 million that can be used over the next year to monitor trash that orbits Earth.

Aside from manned shuttles and the ISS, the U.S. government is concerned about space junk hitting communication and spy satellites. 

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