Photo: International Space Station
The average altitude of the International Space Station’s orbit was raised 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) on Saturday with the help of the engines of Russia’s Progress M-21M cargo craft, the Russian space agency Roscosmos said.
The maneuver, which placed the orbital platform at an altitude of 417 kilometers (259 miles), was done in order to create the best possible conditions for docking the next Russian cargo ship, to be launched Feb. 5 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
The correction of the ISS orbit was originally planned for Thursday, but was postponed because at that time it would have put the space station “dangerously close” to some “space debris,” which turned out to be a fragment of a U.S. rocket.
The space station’s orbit is raised periodically, since the ISS loses between 100 and 150 meters (330 and 490 feet) of altitude every day due to Earth’s gravitation, solar activity and other factors.
Currently aboard the space station is an expedition with a crew of six: the Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kotov, Sergei Ryazansky and Mikhail Tyurin, American astronauts Michael Hopkins and Richard Mastracchio, and the Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata.