WASHINGTON (CBSMiami/AP) — The International Space Station has successfully dodged another piece of  cosmic space junk.

NASA officials said a softball-sized piece of debris from an old U.S. private communication satellite would have come within three miles of the orbiting outpost on Friday had the station not changed its orbit.

Space junk moves so fast that it can puncture the station so engineers try to give debris a wide berth whenever something comes close.

Astronauts fired the station’s engines for 54 seconds Friday to move the outpost about 1,000 feet higher. NASA said it needed to boost the station’s orbit anyway to get ready for a cargo delivery.

This is the 13th time the space station has dodged space junk since 1998.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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