space_station.jpgCAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (AP) _ The six space station astronauts are safe after a close call with a piece of space junk.

Mission Control ordered the crew of the International Space Station into their Soyuz capsules Tuesday morning. Controllers wanted to keep them safe from a piece of orbiting debris. The unidentified object was predicted to pass within 800 or so feet.

The call to seek shelter came around 7:30 a.m. EDT (1130 GMT). The time of closest approach was a little after 8 a.m. (1200 GMT). Mission Control gave the all-clear a few minutes later. The two Americans, three Russians and one Japanese astronaut returned to the station.

Even a small piece of junk can do big damage. The astronauts could have undocked in their two Soyuz capsules and returned to Earth, in case of a serious collision.