Space station robotic arm hit by orbital debris in ‘lucky strike’ (video)

 A piece of space junk smacked into the robotic arm on the International Space Station, but near-term operations should not be affected, according to the agencies involved.

Robotic operators noticed a hole in the station’s Canadarm2 provided by the Canadian Space Agency,  which has been in service in orbit since 2001, during a routine inspection on May 12, the CSA officials said in a blog post Friday (May 28). Officials called the hole a “lucky strike” given the relatively small size of the arm, which is 57.7 feet (17.6 meters) long and has a diameter of just 14 inches (35 cm).

The size of the hole is not apparent in the pictures, nor if the debris went all the way through. However, it does appear Canadarm2’s role in keeping the space station properly maintained can continue without interruption, following careful work from both CSA and NASA.

These images from NASA and the Canadian Space Agency show the location of a space debris strike on the International Space Station’s Canadarm2 robot arm spotted on May 12, 2021 and released on May 28. (Image credit: NASA/Canadian Space Agency)

“Results of the ongoing analysis indicate that the arm’s performance remains unaffected. The damage is limited to a small section of the arm boom and thermal blanket,” the CSA said in the blog post. 

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