Space Station Moves Up And Out Of Way Of Debris

Published January 13, 2012 4:36PM (EST)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The International Space Station has moved up and out of the way of a softball-sized piece of space junk.

NASA officials said debris from an old U.S. private communication satellite would have come within three miles of the orbiting outpost on Friday had the station not changed its orbit.

Space junk moves so fast that it can puncture the station so engineers try to give debris a wide berth whenever something comes close.

Astronauts fired the station's engines for 54 seconds Friday to move the outpost about 1,000 feet higher. NASA said it needed to boost the station's orbit anyway to get ready for a cargo delivery.

This is the 13th time the space station has dodged space junk since 1998.

By Salon Staff

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