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The scheduled undocking of the ESA’s automated transfer vehicle (ATV) from the International Space Station (ISS) is being delayed as NASA and Russian managers prepare for a possible “debris avoidance maneuver” on Thursday.

NASA has announced that the ATV’s engines may be needed to execute the maneuver, should it be required.

The culprits are a chunk of a Russian COSMOS satellite, and a fragment of an Indian rocket body. While the size of the fragments aren’t known, NASA says tracking data shows an object “edging inside” what it calls the “red zone” of proximity to the space station.

Universe Today notes that the red zone is a 50 km square, 1.5 km deep, surrounding the ISS.

If the move is required, NASA states, it will be made at 8:12 AM EDT on Thursday, 27 September. Currently, the time of closest approach to the object is calculated to occur at 10:42 am.

The “Edoardo Armaldi” ATV was due to undock on Tuesday but suffered a communications error which Russian engineers have said is now corrected.

NASA states that the three-person Expedition 33 crew is not in any danger.

The crew includes NASA astronaut Sunita Williams, Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide and Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko. Williams and Hoshide recently grabbed the headlines by modifying a toothbrush to use as a thread-cleaner, fixing a jammed bolt that had stymied their installation of a new power unit onto the ISS. ®

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