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NASA: Space junk passes less than 4 miles from space station

From Kimberly Segal, CNN
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NASA: Space junk no threat to ISS crew
  • NEW: A piece of space junk passes several miles from the space station
  • Tracking data indicates it was not on a collision course with the station
  • The station's crew of three is warned to seek shelter if necessary

(CNN) -- A piece of space junk, determined a couple hours earlier not to be a threat to the crew aboard the International Space Station, passed within four miles of it Tuesday, NASA said.

The space agency had been monitoring a piece of a Chinese satellite that was destroyed in 2007 and had warned the crew to begin making plans to take shelter in the Russian Soyuz capsule if necessary.

However, tracking data showed the debris would not come close enough to warrant an evacuation of the station, NASA said in a statement issued after the crew was given the all-clear signal.

The debris passed 6.07 kilometers from the space station, or about 3.77 miles, said NASA spokesman Kelly Humphries. The crew was given the all-clear signal at 2:41 p.m., NASA said, less than two hours before the 4:21 p.m. estimate officials had given for when the debris was expected to pass by the station.

The current space station team is made up of NASA astronaut Cady Coleman, Russian cosmonaut Dmitry Kondratyev and European Space Agency astronaut Paolo Nespoli.