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23 November 2011

Debris might give space station a close shave

The International Space Station, seen over the Caspian Sea. - NASA

NASA officials plan to make an early morning call on whether to shelter the crew of the International Space Station when a 4-inch diameter piece of debris from a Chinese weather satellite passes by Wednesday.

The piece of the Fengyun 1C, which was destroyed in 2007 by a Chinese missile test, is expected to pass by at 4:43 a.m. ET, mission control at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston said.

"It's approaching the station at 5 kilometers per second," NASA spokesman Kelly Humphries told CNN.

The initial projections were for the Fengyun 1C remnant to miss by around 2,800 feet, but Humphries said "Our last update was looking better."

NASA will make the final call at 4 a.m. ET on whether to move the three-member crew in the space station into the Soyuz vehicle attached to it.