International Space Station evacuated due to Russian debris

The crew of the International Space Station scrambled to evacuate the station last night as debris from a Russian satellite hurtled towards them at eight miles per second in a scenario reminiscent of Oscar-winning space thriller Gravity.

Russians Mikhail Kornienko and Gennady Padalka and American Scott Kelly jumped into the Soyuz escape capsule attached to the ISS for an hour as the debris from an old Russian weather satellite made what Nasa described as a "close pass".

Nasa confirmed that the debris passed by the space station safely at 12:01am GMT, and that all systems were still operating as normal.

"The crew of the International Space Station is resuming normal operations after getting an all clear from Mission Control following a close pass by space debris this morning," Nasa said in a statement.

The Russian Interfax news agency quoted a source in the space industry saying that the debris came from the Soviet meteorological satellite, Meteor-2, which was launched from Russian spaceport, Plesetsk cosmodrome in 1979.

Before the debris flew by, Nasa confirmed on Twitter that all the crew had been safely removed from ISS.

The debris fragment is expected to clear @Space_Station at 8:01 a.m. EDT. Crew is safe in Soyuz as a precaution.

— NASA (@NASA) July 16, 2015

After the debris passed by safely, Nasa tweeted again saying that the crew had been given the "all clear to return to ISS".

The piece of Russian satellite debris has safely passed @Space_Station. Crew has been given the all-clear to return to #ISS.

— NASA (@NASA) July 16, 2015

This is the fourth time in its 15-year history that astronauts aboard ISS, which orbits at a speed of close to 17,500 mph, have moved into the Soyuz to avoid passing debris, according to USA Today.

In the film Gravity, Sandra Bullock and George Clooney are cast adrift in space after a hail of debris hits the space station while they carry out repairs on a space walk. The film was praised for its visual effects and use of 3D. It won seven Oscars, including best director for Alfonso Cuarón.