The image of people racing through a spaceship, desperate to get to the escape pods before the entire thing blows up, is a common one thanks to movies like Star Wars and Armageddon. But it played out for real on Saturday morning. Six astronauts on board the International Space Station were awakened by an emergency command to run for the emergency escape craft to avoid space junk traveling at 17,500 mph, on course to smash into them.
The junk, which missed the ISS by only nine miles, was part of a Russian satellite that was wrecked in a 2009 collision with another communications satellite. Space junk has become so prevalent that low-Earth orbit has become a dangerous place, and the Swiss are planning to launch a special claw-wielding spacecraft to clean things up a bit.
This time, no damage was done to man or spaceship. But as space junk becomes ever more ubiquitous, one wonders if next time we won’t be so lucky.