Russia says it monitors fragments of old satellite

Russia's military Space Forces said Friday they were tracking fragments from a derelict military satellite that has partially disintegrated in orbit to make sure the debris poses no threat the international space station. The Cosmos-2421 satellite suffered "partial defragmentation" after being taken out of service in February 2008, possibly caused by space debris hitting one of the craft's solar arrays, the Space Forces said in a statement. The satellite is expected to burn in the atmosphere later this year, but the Space Forces are monitoring about 30 fragments that broke away to ensure they don't jeopardize the international space station and its crew. The space station had to adjust its orbit in August to evade a piece of debris from the Cosmos-2421, according the October issue of NASA's newsletter Orbital Debris Quarterly News. Earlier this month, the international space station crew took refuge inside a Russian Soyuz escape capsule when officials worried a piece of passing space debris might hit the orbiting outpost. The debris missed, but engineers did not know by how much. Even tiny pieces could cause a fatal loss of air pressure in the station.