The story

A piece of debris zipping by at astronomical speed forced the crew of the international space station to take shelter in its escape capsule Thursday, a rare close call for the orbiting platform, NASA said.

The object -- about 5 inches across, and moving at nearly 20,000 mph -- passed within 3 miles (4.5 km) of the station early Thursday afternoon, the U.S. space agency reported. The near miss forced the three-member crew into the Soyuz return ship for about 10 minutes, NASA spokesman Kelly Humphries told CNN.

The chunk of metal came from a satellite rocket motor used on an earlier space mission, NASA said. Read full article »

CNN's John Zarrella and Kim Segal contributed to this report.

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