On Friday, SpaceX and NASA successfully launched four astronauts into orbit to the International Space Station (ISS). The Crew-2 mission launch, which went by without a hitch, marked the third-ever crewed flight for SpaceX and first time Elon Musk’s rapidly expanding space company used both a previously flown Falcon 9 first stage rocket booster and spacecraft.
As mentioned, the launch was a breeze, however, according to a Futurism report, the crew of the astronauts did experience some scary moments while en route to the ISS where they will begin their 6-month stay in space. The publication suggests that NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough, Megan McArthur, French astronaut Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency, and Akihiko Hoshide from Japan were notified of a potential collision with an unidentified object.
“The NASA/SpaceX team was informed of the possible conjunction by US Space Command,” NASA spokesperson Kelly Humphries told Futurism. “The object being tracked is classified as ‘unknown’.”
Humphries also said SpaceX instructed the astronauts to put on their pressurized suits since the unidentified object came so close that there was no time to execute an avoidance maneuver.
“The possibility of the conjunction came so close to the closest approach time that there wasn’t time to compute and execute a debris avoidance maneuver with confidence..,” Humphries told the publication, noting that NASA was notified by the Pentagon of the potential collision at about 1:30 pm EST/Friday, about 7 hours after SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule launched.
Meanwhile, Business Insider reports that after orbiting Earth for nearly 24 hours in their Crew Dragon spaceship, the NASA astronauts performed a series of automated maneuvers to dock the spacecraft to the ISS around 5:15 a.m. ET on Saturday.
Two hours and 30 minutes later, Crew-2 floated in through the spaceship’s hatch.
Crew-2 will relieve the four Crew-1 members returning to Earth aboard SpaceX’s Crew-1 Dragon capsule, likely around the end of this month.