Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
By Associated Press

A piece of space junk forced the three space station astronauts to seek emergency shelter Thursday.

For about an hour, the American and two Russians had to hunker down in their Soyuz spacecraft, which is docked to the International Space Station, in case they had to make a quick getaway. The fragment from an old Russian weather satellite ended up passing harmlessly, about 1½ miles away.

It's only the fourth time in the 16-year history of the space station that a crew has had to rush into a Soyuz for protection from potentially dangerous debris.

Normally, NASA learns about incoming junk sooner, and the space station moves out of the way. But there wasn't time for that Thursday; the crew was notified just 1½ hours in advance.