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NASA Monitoring Floating Junk Heading Toward Space Station

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(Photo by NASA via Getty Images)

(Photo by NASA via Getty Images)

End Of An Era

CAPE CANAVERAL (CBS4) – A piece of space junk hurtling toward the International Space Station is expected to make its closet approach on Tuesday, right in the middle of a planned spacewalk.

NASA released word of the object soon after Atlantis docked with the orbiting platform on Sunday.

NASA Mission management team leader LeRoy Cain said the size of the space junk is unknown. He said the object might stay at a safe distance but experts won’t know until Monday. If necessary, Atlantis crew will use their ship’s thrusters to move the linked craft.

Less than two weeks ago, space station astronauts had to take shelter in their lifeboats because of a piece of junk. It missed by 1,100 feet, the closest encounter yet.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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