The International Space Station is executing an evasive maneuver in a few hours, following the protocol for when there's more than a one in 10,000 chance of a space collision.
According to Nadyezhda Zavyalova—spokeswoman for the ISS Mission Control in Moscow—the Russian Zvevda module will fire its rocket engines at 10:22pm EDT tonight (Thursday at 7:22am Moscow time). [Fox News]
Like I said a long time ago, the ISS needs lasers. Or something.
The ISS is almost as big as a Corellian corvette and it's up there defenseless, floating peacefully, sitting like a dinosaur-sized duck, waiting for one of the 21,000 pieces of tracked space debris to crack it open and take it down in a fiery ball of junk.
Sure, they have a escape spaceship for astronauts. In case things go bad they can jump in there and fly away before the worst happens. However, after all the money and effort put in the only human post in space, do we want to send everything to hell for a piece of orbiting crap? Wouldn't it be better to install defense mechanisms against space debris-or, ah, hmmm, alien ships!-to preserve the ISS? Or can we keep it moving up down until we decide to sink it in the ocean?
Technically, there are already weapon systems that may be altered to perform this task, but this is not an easy task. We know it is not as easy as firing a laser and taking down the incoming chunk of metal with a Star Wars explosion.
There's a lot of things to be taken into account. First, you will need to detect the threat and fire from a very long distance, so the resulting effect doesn't cause any harm to the ISS itself. Then, the method to take down the object will change depending on its nature. Is it a big satellite or just a big chunk of metal from a previous collision? Does the incoming object have explosive elements inside? If the object is too big and can't be obliterated in a single shot, perhaps it would be better to have some kind of rocket that may approach the object and change its orbit by exploding near it? Perhaps some kind of emergency tug that can attach to the object and take it down?