On Tuesday, Nasa has temporarily delayed a scheduled space mission for 2 astronauts, outside the International Space Station, fearing a “debris notice” that was issued to the orbiting research laboratory. Astronauts Thomas Marshburn, as well as Kayla, were scheduled to leave the space station to repair a failing antenna, despite what Nasa officials described as a slightly higher danger posed by junk from a Russian anti-satellite missile launch weeks earlier. However, approx. 5 hours before the spacewalk was scheduled to begin, Nasa announced on Twitter that the spacewalk had been postponed for the time being. NASA received a notification that the space station had been hit by debris. Teams have chosen to postpone the Nov. 30 spacewalk, until additional information is available due to not being able to adequately analyze this danger as it may cause harm to the astronauts.
It was unclear how near the debris came to the space station, which is approximately orbiting 250 miles (402 kilometers) above the Earth, and whether it was connected to the Russian missile launch. Nasa TV had intended to broadcast live footage of the 6-hour spacewalk, which was set to begin at 7.10 Am., ET (12.10 GMT). Their mission was to repair a malfunctioning S-band radio communications antenna component that had been in place for more than 20 years, as well as replace it with a new one stored outside of the space station. The faulty antenna recently lost its ability to transmit messages to Earth. Even though other antennas on the space station can serve the same role, mission managers chose to install a replacement.
Marshburn was supposed to collaborate with Barron while placed at the end of a robotic arm, controlled from within the station by European Space Agency astronaut Matthias Maurer, with assistance from American Crewmate Raja Chari. The 4 reached the space station on November 11 in a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, where they joined 2 Russian cosmonauts as well as a Nasa astronaut, who are now all currently on board. As per Nasa, 4 days later, a Russian anti-satellite missile test performed without notice caused a debris field in the Low-Earth Orbit, with all 7 members of the crew seeking refuge in their docked spacecraft to enable for a speedy escape, until the immediate threat had passed.
As per Dana Weigel, Nasa’s deputy manager for the International Space Station, the cloud of debris has subsequently dissipated. However, Weigel told reporters on Monday that residual shards posed a “slightly enhanced” background danger to the space station overall, as well as a 7% higher chance of spacewalker suits being perforated, compared to previous missile launch by Russia. She stated that Nasa has yet to completely calculate the increased risks presented by the more than 1,700 bigger debris shards it is monitoring all around the orbit of the station, however the 7% increase in danger to spacewalkers was “well within” variations previously found in “its natural surroundings.”