These truly are the dog days of the space age. A space station shaken almost to the point of bending. Space shuttles grounded by cracking valves. Satellites colliding just above the Hubble telescope. Pretty tough stuff for an acting Emperor to deal with, let alone a real one.
And an even larger problem may be lurking around the corner.
One does have to wonder, how the big eyes of the Pentagon, and its super computers on the ground, missed predicting the dust-up on orbit over Siberia. The Pentagon acknowledged that it did not anticipate the ka-boom. "We did not predict this collision," said Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman, "There are limits on your ability to track and compute every piece of orbiting man-made objects."
Ahhhhh, maybe not every piece, Bryan, but how about the stable bigger stuff? We sure knew how to blow a satellite out of the sky last year when its orbit was not so predictable near the edge of the atmosphere. That's a lot harder to track and predict than what happened last week.
Which also makes us wonder, if they missed that one, what about the smaller stuff aiming for the shuttle headed towards Hubble in May. What about the slightly bigger tool bag recently sent adrift by an astronaut near the space station? If we can't predict two car-sized objects are about to occupy the same box in space at the same point in time, what does that say about the models, the sensors, and the humans generating predictions that lives in orbit depend on every day?
There are only three answers possible. Either a big ooops happened last week, and no one in the five-sided building wants to come clean on that, or the collision was deliberately allowed to take place, and someone left us with a big mess as a result, or our prognostication capabilities are not all that they are cracked up to be. Any conclusion you come to is not a good one.
And we aren't even talking yet about the big asteroid with our name on it hiding in the deepest darkness.