back to article ISS crew man the lifeboat

The crew of the International Space Station were obliged to take refuge in the docked Russian Soyuz capsule this afternoon, as space junk passed within 250 metres of the orbiting outpost. According to Interfax, a Russian space official described the temporary evacuation as "normal procedure" during a close encounter with …


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  1. Mike Richards

    Six people

    But I thought Soyuz was only rated for three.

    Are they meant to sit in one another's laps for re-entry?

    1. Tom Chiverton 1

      spot on

      good job there's another craft docked, eh.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Six people

      Haven't you ever seen the Human Millipede?...

    3. Anonymous Coward

      Play for it

      I believe they have to play some kind of game to decide who gets a sit. Some form of roulette, apparently.

    4. James Hughes 1

      I guess

      If the other option is death by depressurisation, then, yes.

      Although given they are in each other laps, perhaps reentry isn't the best phrase to use.

    5. Paul Leighton


      3 inside and 3 on an inflatable banana boat to be pulled behind it!

    6. Annihilator

      Two docked

      I suspect that they've taken refuge in both the Soyuz modules that are currently docked - 3 in each.

    7. voshkin


      There are two Soyuz escape modules...

    8. Robert Brockway

      Two capsules available

      The ability to dock a second Soyuz was added a few years ago. That's why the crew compliment is now 6.

  2. Andus McCoatover

    That's fuc*king close

    Myst-all-chucking-frighty, my pub's closer! (from home, not from the ISS)

    Certainly wouldn't jump in that Russian crate without using that expensive piss-filter first.

    (Icon, natch)

  3. Ben 50

    Time to mount junk busting laser sharks on the station

    ....just saying

  4. Sureo

    space junk?

    Mightn't that be the tool kit lost not long ago? It would share the ISS orbit for a long time.

    1. Joe Cooper

      It would not

      The ISS orbits in the upper atmosphere, so the headwind quickly slows down and de-orbits all debris. This makes it a sort of "safe zone" (relatively).

      The ISS itself will sink and deorbit within only half a year if abandoned, while smaller objects may come down faster due to having proportionally lower mass compared to their cross section... I think... Or am I thinking of surface area? Whichever.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Reminds me of a ditty by Spike Milligan...

    Twinkle twinkle little star,

    How I wonder what you are,

    Up above the world so high,

    Like a diamond in the sky.

    Twinkle twinkle little star,

    Now I know just what you are,

    A lump of rusting rocket case,

    A rubbish tip in outer space.

  6. Markius

    What is...

    ...the plural form of Soyuz?

    1. Peter Murphy

      Damn good question.

      For English, the plural would probably be "Soyuzes". You could write "Soyuzs", but it seems unnatural to me - the plural would add a third syllable, rather than an-awkward-for-English-speakers "zs" consonant cluster.

      For Russian "Союз", it depends on which of the six cases you are using. See the drop down box in:союз

      Something like "The ISS has two Soyuzes" would use the accusative plural "союзы". I think (but please correct me if I'm wrong) that your would you use the prepositional plural "союзах" for something like "The astronauts are in the Soyuzes".

    2. Joe Cooper

      In Russian?


      1. Andus McCoatover

        In Swedish?


      2. TeeCee Gold badge

        Damn good answer.

        All worked as a purely linguistic analysis too.

        And there was me thinking this was Rocket Science.......

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Temporary Evacuation?

    I would want to be the one the pick up the F^HPieces!

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Missed - this time...

    Presumably the probability of an eventual collision is high. If / when one does happen, I expect it's likely to create a lot of debris that would make that orbit rather hazardous for a long while, even if the crew did manage to get away. Anyone got any info / factual on this?

    1. Joe Cooper

      No title

      No; this low altitude orbit was chosen partially because there's enough atmospheric wind drag to deorbit debris within a very short period, under half a year.

      The flip side is that if the ISS is abandoned, it will come down in that timeframe.

      Depending on the state of ISS after collision, it may be possible to remotely instruct it to accelerate, raising it above the debris field and should buy enough time (before it falls) to schedule more boost missions while a repair plan is conjured up.

      It would be a problem for the upcoming final shuttle mission, though.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Good question

      If a small centimeter size piece whizzes at the station at orbital velocities what will happen?

      Will it shatter the station and cause it to spread even more debris about?

      Or would it basically compromise the integrity of it, rendering it unfit for humans and knock it out of orbit without too much debris slapping out?

      Any physicists / space structural engineers in the room?

      1. Ru

        RE: "Will it shatter the station and cause it to spread even more debris about?"

        Centimetre sized? Not unless it was travelling at relativistic rather than orbital velocities. And even then... a station module can be envisaged as a large, expensive Whipple shield. Might end up with a hole in one side and a lot of broken equipment in the middle but nothing much else if hit by tiny bits of debris. You'd lose pressure, of course.

        Not sure how big something would have to be in order to be a serious threat to the integrity of the station rather than merely an expensive hazard.

      2. Joe Cooper

        no title

        There is no "orbital velocity" here; the more similar the orbits are, the lower the collision velocity. In principle it could only be a few hundred mph, or dozen, or a few. Conversely, something in a retrograde orbit would hit at around 15 km/s. Or much more.

        So anything from a slight bump to blowing a large chunk of it to pieces, depending on the impact velocity and mass of impactor.

        In short; get in the lifeboat, be ready to bail and find out what happens.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What if...

    ... the black bin bag with a yogurt pot sticking out hits the capsule?

  10. E 2

    Expedition 28

    Is a complete sausage party.

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