Space debris forces ISS crew take cover
Astronauts aboard the International Space Station had to take emergency shelter in a docked Soyuz spacecraft on Thursday morning.
Debris from a Russian satellite took aim at the ISS, sending the its residents scuttling into the Soyuz escape capsule - also Russian made - as a precaution.
Thankfully, the debris flew past the station and no harm was done. The debris floated safely past ISS shortly after 8 am, NASA said, and the crew were able to return to the ISS about 10 minutes later.
"The piece of Russian satellite debris has safely passed @Space_Station. Crew has been given the all-clear to return to #ISS." NASA said in a tweet.
Space agency spokesman Kyle Herring said NASA does not calculate exactly how close the debris gets, but monitors a "pizza box-shaped" area around the station.
When debris appears likely to breach the box, the space station usually can avoid it. This time, the information was obtained a bit too late for that to work.
A debris flyby is nothing new to NASA, which three times before has had to send crews into the Soyuz as a precaution.
Scientists say hundreds of thousands of pieces of junk and debris are circling the Earth, including rocket parts and pieces of destroyed satellites.
The ISS Expedition 44 crew now on the station include Commander Russian Gennady Padalka, along with Scott Kelly Russian cosmonauts are Mikhail Kornienko. Three more crew members head to the station next week, reports usatoday.com.