Earlier today, teams at ATV-CC were notified that a piece of debris was suspected of being on track to pass (too) close to the ISS, and that a debris avoidance manoeuvre (DAM) powered by ATV-5 might be required.

ATV fires its engines for reboosting ISS to a higher orbit. Credit: ESA

ATV fires its engines for reboosting ISS to a higher orbit. Credit: ESA

ESA Mission Director Jean Michel Bois wrote earlier today:

There is a foreseen Debris Avoidance Manoeuvre (DAM) tonight, to be confirmed later. The suspected conjunction is with object 38971 (Breeze-M debris). It is a small object that is difficult to track; it is also in an elliptical orbit. The conjunction is foreseen for 4 Oct around 03:50 GMT (05:50 CEST). A manoeuvre using the ATV thrusters is in preparation, for activation around 01:30 GMT (03:30 CEST). The delta velocity foreseen is 1m/sec.

Note that, if it would have been performed, the DAM burn would have made the planned ISS reboost on 8 October redundant.

Well, in the end, additional characterisation of the debris object’s orbit indicated that no DAM would be necessary. Again, Jean-Michel Bois wrote:

We have just been informed by NASA that the DAM is cancelled – there is no more risk to the ISS. Note that this type of situation happens rather frequently. But it’s always safety first: it’s better to be prepared to react (with a DAM burn planned and ready to go) and then have to cancel when the risk has disappeared, than the opposite and not be ready…

That’s real-time life on board the ISS!

For more information on ATV-powered DAMs, read some of our past blog posts.