ISS Debris Avoidance Maneuver Called Off; ATV-3 Departure Rescheduled

ATV-3 docked to ISS as photographed from the departing Soyuz TMA-22 (Credits: NASA).

The International Space Station Debris Avoidance Maneuver scheduled for Thursday, September 27 was called off just seven hours before its planned execution. Further observation showed that the two pieces of debris headed for the station would not enter the “red zone” that would indicate a 1 in 100,000 chance of colliding with the vessel.

With the debris no longer of concern, attention turned back to the ATV-3 cargo ship’s belated departure. The ATV-3 was originally scheduled to undock on September 25. A mistaken code for a command transmitted to the vessel from ISS resulted in a delay and overnight investigation. In the interim, two pieces of debris from a Cosmos satellite and an old Indian rocket caused concern as they approached the station and ATV-3 was retained to provide an avoidance maneuver. The maneuver was cancelled too late to prepare ATV-3 for departure on September 27, so the undocking has now been rescheduled for September 28. If all goes well, the vessel will destructively reenter Earth’s atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean on October 2.

Below, the reentry of ATV Jules Verne in 2008:


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