WASHINGTON, April 3 (Xinhua) -- U.S. space agency NASA said Thursday that the International Space Station (ISS) orbit was raised half a mile (about 0.8 kilometers) to avoid a possible collision with a fragment from an old European Ariane 5 rocket.
The maneuver was performed with a three-minute, 40-second firing of the ISS thrusters at 4:42 p.m. EDT (2042 GMT) that provided a reboost for the orbital laboratory.
"NASA and Russian flight controllers tracked the Sylda Adapter for the past few days before jointly deciding to perform the maneuver," the space agency said in a statement. "The Ariane 5 payload deployment mechanism was forecast to pass less than 2/10 of a mile of the station at 7:02 p.m. EDT (2302 GMT) had no action been taken."
The six-man crew was informed of the maneuver and was never in any danger, NASA said.
This is the second time in less than three weeks that the ISS had to dodge space junk. On March 16, flight controllers conducted a debris avoidance maneuver to steer the ISS clear of a piece of Russian METEOR 2-5 satellite launched in late October 1979.
NASA said Wednesday that it has suspended the majority of its engagements with Russia due to the Ukraine crisis but will continue to collaborate with its Russian counterpart Roscosmos on the ISS operations.