"Everyone into the survival pods, quickly! We may be smashed and the pressure could blow! Space death and boiling blood is what we face!" These words or some version of them were likely spoken aboard the International Space Station yesterday around 8 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, when the astronauts there were *nearly* obliterated by speeding space debris.
This stunning true story of survival thousands of miles away from home and help is brought to us by the New York Times:
The six crew members of the space station took refuge in their "lifeboats" - two Soyuz space capsules they would use to escape a crippled station - as the unidentified object hurtled past them at a speed of 29,000 miles per hour, missing the space station by only 1,100 feet.
Do you know how close 1,100 feet is, in space terms? To put it in perspective, the Milky Way is approximately four kajillion times larger than that many feet, and the universe itself it so many times bigger that to express it as a number, the number of zeros would be bigger than the number of zeros in your computer. In "earth" terms, this was the equivalent of someone shooting a bullet that knocked the mosquito off your face but didn't harm you a bit. (The mosquito was not harmed either, it was special effects.)
NASA says the chance of a space collision is one in five over the ten-year lifetime of the space station. Try not to worry about it.
[NYT. Photo: AP]