MOSCOW, Feb. 5 (UPI) -- U.S. and Russian officials have said the International Space Station was not threatened by debris from a satellite destroyed by China.
"In order to protect ISS from the possibility of collision with big pieces of space junk, we conduct a maneuver of avoidance to lead the station to the side. The Russian MCC (Mission Control Center) takes the decision of carrying out this maneuver together with the Johnson Space Center in Houston," a Russian Mission Control Center spokesman told the RIA Novosti news agency Friday.He was describing a general policy.
However, the spokesman said the debris did not threaten the space station, and that an anti-meteorite system protected it from smaller fragments. Therefore such a maneuver was not necessary.
China set off an international protest when it announced in January it had used a ground-based missile to hit one its aging weather satellites, Novosti reported.
The United States filed a diplomatic protest, Novosti said, because the weather satellite used approximately the same orbit as its spy satellites. Canada, Australia and Japan also objected.
Russian and U.S. space agencies were both tracking fragments from the weather satellite. U.S. officials said they were following 525 large fragments and had recorded between 500 and 600 instances of debris passing within three miles of orbiting satellites.