Andrei Krivorukov got a wonderful Christmas gift today: his very own life. He saved it after a titanium ball from a Russian communication satellite crashed right into its house, escaping death by just a few feet.
The Russian satellite was a Meridian, which is used for civilian and military communications. It was destroyed when a Soyuz-2 rocket exploded in midair, just a few minutes after its launch from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome—a Russian spaceport, located 500 miles north of Moscow.
The catastrophe sent several pieces flying over Siberia, near the city of Tobolsk and as far as 62 miles from the city of Novosibirsk.
One of them was the 11-pound titanium ball that fell through Krivorukov's roof, landing right where he was minutes before. That was when he decided to go to his yard to grab some wood for his fireplace. Because, you know, it's bloody cold in Siberia. And you have to run out of your house from time to time to avoid random satellite pieces from crushing you into a pile of gunk.
He also got another gift: the town where he lives said they were going to pay for the repairs. I'm sure he's happy enough to save his neck.
It's a weird accident not only because of this Christmas miracle: the Soyuz has an excellent track record. It's a tried-and-true vehicle with hundreds of successful missions since the 1960s, when it was designed by OKB-1 and manufactured at State Aviation Plant No. 1 in Samara, Russia. Its first flight was in 1966. The variant that launched today only has had one failure and one partial failure.