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Science Briefing

Orbiting junk misses astronauts

September 05, 2009|Times Staff and Wire Reports

A big piece of space junk safely sped past the International Space Station and shuttle Discovery, missing by less than a mile.

The astronauts were still asleep Friday when the old rocket part passed.

NASA had been monitoring the situation and decided that it was unlikely to be a problem, so controllers did not move the station-shuttle complex.

Astronauts went ahead with a spacewalk Thursday night to install a new fully loaded tank of space station coolant.

NASA officials said the closest it was to the astronauts was about 4,200 feet.

A third and final spacewalk is scheduled for today. Discovery is slated to unlock from the space station Tuesday.

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