It has been more than a month since Thomas Pesquet’s crew brought their suitcases to the ISS. As part of the Alpha Mission, Thomas Pesquet, Megan McArthur, Shane Kimbrough, and Akihiko Hoshide must conduct as many experiments as possible over the next 6 months.
As you can imagine, the space environment is particularly hostile, and this mission is not without its risks. On May 12, the ISS crew discovered that space debris was crossing their path with Canadarm 2, the mechanical arm outside the ISS. Fortunately, the ramifications for the remainder of the mission seem insignificant.
Had the crew not been on an outdoor mission to check the status of Canadarm 2, no one would have noticed. If this discovery took place on May 12th, no one knows exactly when the collision took place.
A current topic
As a reminder, Canadarm 2 was developed by the Canadian Space Agency and NASA to manipulate and guide objects near the International Space Station. In a recent statement following the discovery, the CSA said, “Experts from the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and NASA worked together to take detailed images of the area and assess the impact on one of Canadarm2’s boom segments. The results of the current analysis show that the arm’s performance remains unchanged.
In reality, this incident could have been much more serious if the debris had hit another part of the ISS. The shock could have damaged the space station or, worse, injured a crew member. The alpha mission should be used to find a way to destroy or salvage space junk.
In 2019, there were more than 34,000 pieces of debris over 10 cm in low orbit and more than 5,400 over a meter. This phenomenon is of particular importance for ESA and in particular the National Center for Space Studies (CNES).