NASA delays ISS spacewalk due to space debris


The spacewalk of two ISS astronauts, which was scheduled to take place on November 30, had to be delayed for two days due to the risk of space debris, NASA announced. 

The agency tweeted the news on November 30, 2021, just five hours before the spacewalk was due to begin. 

Astronauts Kayla Barron and Thomas Marshburn were due to leave the ISS to commence repair works. According to NASA, their mission was to replace a faulty antenna with a spare one and was likely to take around six-and-a-half hours to complete.  

The event came two weeks after an alert caused by a Russian weapon test that destroyed an old satellite in the low-Earth orbit. The test resulted in thousands of fragments that, according to NASA, have put ISS and numerous satellites in danger.  

The test was performed on October 15, 2021. As a result, the astronauts in the ISS were put on alert and boarded escape vehicles until the situation was deemed safe. 

Read more: NASA ‘outraged’ by Russian anti-satellite missile test that alarmed ISS crew 

Numerous US officials expressed their condemnation of the test, while the Russian space agency Roscosmos said the test posed no risk to the astronauts, and the ISS is ‘in the green zone’. 

On October 30, during an interview with Reuters, NASA spokesman Gary Jordan said that there is no information on the size and the trajectory of the debris that caused the delay, and that they have “no indications” that it is related to the Russian weapons test. 

However, the consequences of the test have been noticed by other space-faring parties. Later the same day, Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX, tweeted that the debris caused the company to shift some of its Starlink satellite orbits to “avoid collision”.  

On December 1, NASA announced that the spacewalk is now rescheduled for December 2. According to the agency, it has been determined that the debris does not pose a risk to the astronauts. 

Delaying the spacewalk provided an opportunity for NASA to evaluate the risk from the debris notification,” the agency said in a statement. 

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