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Space station to dodge superfast debris
by Staff Writers
Houston (UPI) Jan 13, 2012

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only

The International Space Station will need to dodge a small but superfast piece of orbiting communication debris Friday morning, the U.S. Space Command said.

The crew was to fire the Zvezda service module engines at 11:10 a.m. EST to avoid the 4-inch-diameter piece of a former communications satellite orbiting at very high speed in the space station's general direction, with "the potential of a collision," NASA said in a statement Thursday.

Without the maneuver, the object, once used for voice and data communication from hand-held satellite phones, would whiz by the station twice Friday, missing the 6-story high, 24-story long and 36-story wide station perhaps by less than a mile, NASA said.

Contact could puncture the space station.

The move will be 13th time since 1998 the low-Earth-orbit station has had to take evasive action to avoid debris, NASA said.

The maneuver will eliminate the need to boost the station's altitude next week for the launch and docking this month of a Russian unmanned Progress resupply cargo ship, NASA said.

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