NASA Postpones Spacewalk Citing ‘Debris Notification’ for ISS

Nasa has postponed a planned spacewalk outside the International Space Station due to flying “debris,” two weeks after Russia blew up one of its own satellites in a missile test that created clouds of zooming shrapnel in orbit. From a report: Washington’s space agency did not mention the Russian test in its announcement, but a Nasa official had warned a day earlier of a slightly elevated risk to astronauts due to the 14 November incident. The strike generated thousands of pieces of “space junk” that are now hurling around the Earth at about 17,000 mph (27,400km/h) — much faster than the speed of a bullet. At that velocity, even tiny flecks of paint can damage spacecraft, with spacesuits even more vulnerable.

On Tuesday, about five hours before the astronauts Thomas Marshburn and Kayla Barron were due to venture outside the space station, Nasa said on Twitter that the spacewalk to fix a failed antenna had been cancelled. “Nasa received a debris notification for the space station. Due to the lack of opportunity to properly assess the risk it could pose to the astronauts, teams have decided to delay the 30 November spacewalk until more information is available,” it tweeted. Moscow has said its test to destroy its own spacecraft, Tselina-D, which had been in orbit since 1982, was successful and the debris posed no “threat to space activity.”