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The ISS has had to maneuver yet again from Russian satellite debris

This fragment was one of more than 1,500 pieces of debris from Cosmos 1408.



Enlarge / The International Space Station has had to maneuver again to avoid debris from a Russian satellite. (credit: NASA)

On November 15, 2021, Russia launched a Nudol missile at one of its aging satellites in low-Earth orbit. As intended, the missile struck the Cosmos 1408 satellite at an altitude of 480 km, breaking it into more than 1,000 fragments.

In the immediate aftermath of this test—which Russia carried out to demonstrate to other space powers its anti-satellite capabilities—American and Russian astronauts aboard the International Space Station scrambled into spacecraft in case an emergency departure was needed. They remained in these shelters for about six hours before getting an all clear to return to normal activities.

Following international condemnation for this test, Russian officials claimed that Americans and other officials had overreacted. “The United States knows for certain that the emerging fragments at the time of the test and in terms of the orbit’s parameters did not and will not pose any threat to orbital stations, satellites and space activity,” the Defense Ministry of Russia said at the time.

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