Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Astronauts take 'shelter' as space debris swings by

NASA ordered the six crew members at the International Space Station to "shelter in place" Monday when space debris came tumbling toward the station's orbit.

An all-clear announcement followed 41 minutes later. An investigation is under way to find out how close the debris came and where it was from, said NASA spokesman Joshua Buck.

NASA Mission Control received late notice of an "unknown object of unknown size" approaching the space station's orbit Monday morning, Buck said. The debris was spotted "too late to make an avoidance maneuver." So the orders were given to "shelter in place."

At about 7:30 a.m. ET, the crew members climbed into the two Soyuz capsules positioned at the station to wait out the debris. NASA determined that the debris would come closest to the space station at 8:08.

Three minutes later, at 8:11 a.m. ET, the all-clear was sounded and astronauts were allowed to exit the capsules.

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