Space Station shifts orbit to dodge rubbish

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Space Station shifts orbit to dodge rubbish

The International Space Station has shifted its orbit to avoid the tons of rubbish that it jettisoned yesterday.

The Space Station was boosted by a 21-minute burn from a Progress 25 cargo craft that carried supplies to the three-man team on the craft.

This new orbit will keep the Space Station clear of rubbish, including a 1,400lb fridge, or Early Ammonia Servicer, which it dumped yesterday.

"The Servicer was installed on the P6 truss during STS-105 in August 2001 as an ammonia replenishment reservoir if a leak had occurred," said Nasa.

"It was never used, and was no longer needed after the permanent cooling system was activated last December."

The rubbish will continue in orbit for nearly a year before burning up and re-entering the atmosphere.

Space debris is becoming an increasing problem as it orbits the Earth at high speed and can cause damage to working spacecraft.

The US Strategic Command keeps a record of sizeable space junk to avoid mistakes in missile launches, and estimates that there are about 10,000 objects orbiting the Earth.

A French communications satellite was severely damaged in 1996 in a high speed impact with a piece of orbital debris.

The following year an American woman became the first person to be struck by falling space debris after she was hit on the shoulder by a 6in chunk of a Delta II rocket returning to Earth.
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