The six-person crew aboard the ISS first learned of
the debris early on Friday morning. Since it proved so
difficult to monitor it using satellite and ground-based technology,
NASA said the piece
of debris likely was extremely small.
Due to the space
debris, the crew had to sleep in two Russian Soyuz craft designed to
be escape pods -- the actual trajectory of the debris was unknown,
causing even more alarm from mission operators.
It turned out,
according to space officials, that the debris didn't come close to
the ISS after all, but the decision to order the crew into the Soyuz
escape craft was still a good idea.
As the number of
floating space junk increases, the possibility of impact with the
ISS, satellites or manned missions has increased. The ISS has
to undergo avoidance maneuvers in the past, but this may become
an issue that is even more serious in the future.
States Air Force announced early last spring it would set aside $500
million in 2010 to help track space junk floating around Earth.
NASA officials also again said the threat of space junk would
continue to increase unless space experts came up with methods to
quote: or until emergency force-fields were erected in the effected areas (assuming such technology is available).