The American space agency NASA announced that the astronauts’ spacewalk, scheduled for today, December 21, has been postponed. Shortly before the release of Frank Rubio and Josh Kassada, there was evidence that space debris – a fragment of the Russian Fregat-SB upper stage – dangerously approached the International Space Station (ISS). Based on this data, the mission control team instructed the crew to stop preparing for a spacewalk, as specialists on Earth began to perform a space debris evasion maneuver.
NASA said that the engines of the Progress MS-20 transport spacecraft, which is currently docked to the ISS, will be used to carry out the maneuver. Engine start is scheduled for December 21 at 8:42 am ET (4:42 pm Moscow time). NASA notes that this is a standard evasion procedure, and nothing threatens the crew. According to experts, without an evasive maneuver, the fragment will pass at a dangerous distance from the ISS – less than 500 meters.
Russian cosmonaut Dmitry Petelin also confirmed that today’s launch of Frank Rubio and Josh Cassada has been postponed. According to him, the astronauts had to carry out installation work in order to modernize the power supply system of the station. NASA has promised to re-schedule astronaut spacewalks to install a new set of roll-out solar arrays as soon as the opportunity arises.