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Space Station Takes A Hike

Flight controllers boosted the orbit of the international space station by about a mile Tuesday to avoid dangerous space junk.

NASA spokesman Kyle Herring said the maneuver - the first of its kind for the new station - went well. In June, flight controllers in Moscow botched an attempt to move the station out of the way of a piece of space debris. But the junk ended up passing well clear of the station.

The U.S. Space Command in Colorado Springs, Colo., which tracks orbiting objects, notified NASA over the weekend that a spent Pegasus rocket body would pass within a mile of the space station on Wednesday, Herring said. The maneuver Tuesday widened the gap to a safe 15 miles.

Before the move, the space station was in an orbit 230 miles by 247 miles high.

NASA planned to boost the orbit of the space station anyway early next year as part of a test for the arrival of the next piece, a Russian module equipped with all the life-support systems.

When the first two pieces of the space station were launched late last year, NASA predicted the complex would have to be moved about twice a year to avoid orbiting debris, Herring said.

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