ESA astronaut André Kuipers on sheltering from space debris

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Safety & Security


André Kuipers is one of a handful of astronauts who has had to ‘shelter-in-place’ from a piece of marauding space debris.

In 2012, a debris fragment was spotted heading towards the International Space Station. Its orbit was hard to predict but it looked like it could pass at a distance of approximately 10 kilometres: that meant code red.

ESA astronaut André, along with his fellow passengers, had to seek shelter in the two Soyuz spaceships which function as safe houses and as lifeboats. Fortunately, the debris passed safely by. We spoke to André about what this experience was like, and also to his wife Helen who recounts the exact moment she found out.


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