Even as crew members struggled to fix their central computer, the Russian space station Mir came within 500 to 1,000 yards of colliding with a U.S. military satellite Monday night.
The Mir survived without any damage. But the satellite came close enough that the three crew members, including U.S. astronaut Michael Foale, sealed themselves into the Soyuz re-entry capsule to make a fast getaway in case the space station was going to get hit.
Though close encounters with space debris are common, the vast majority are measured in miles, not yards. Making matters more dicey, officials on the ground could not pinpoint the exact path of the satellite. Space experts say the uncertainties and wobbles of space travel are too unpredictable to plot a precise trajectory.