ISS astronauts take cover in spaceships as Russian satellite breaks into pieces

International Space Station

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) were forced to take cover in their spaceships when a defunct Russian satellite broke up into more than a hundred pieces while in low Earth orbit 

On June 27, 2024, NASA confirmed that it had instructed crew members stationed on the ISS to “shelter in their respective spacecraft” after debris from the Russian satellite, RESURS-P1, circulated at an altitude near the station.  

According to the space agency the order was given around 21:00 Eastern Daylight Time, while mission control was monitoring the debris path. 

Of the nine astronauts on board the ISS, two took sanctuary in the Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft and three inside SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule, while the remainder took cover in the Russian Soyuz capsule. 

“After about an hour the crew was cleared to exit their spacecraft and the station resumed normal operations,” NASA said in a post on X (formally known as Twitter). 

US Space Command also monitored the break-up of the Russian-owned decommissioned satellite. 

In a statement, Space Command said that it observed “no immediate threats” but was nevertheless continuing to conduct assessments to “support the safety and sustainability of the space domain”. 

“USSPACECOM has notified commercial, governmental, Allied and Partner organizations via, to include Russia as the satellite owner,” Space Command said in a statement.  

The cause of the incident is currently under investigation, but there have been widespread concerns in recent years regarding satellite and debris congestion in low Earth orbit.   

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