SpaceX's Crew Dragon Endeavor spacecraft carrying four astronauts had a near miss with a UFO before successfully reaching the International Space Station, NASA has revealed. After a successful launch in Florida, the four crew members while en route to the International Space Station were notified that they could soon collide with an unknown object.
The recycled SpaceX capsule, which was carrying four astronauts, arrived at the space station on Saturday, a day after launching from NASA's Kennedy Space Center. The four astronauts were told to prepare to collide into an unidentified object just seven hours after the launch, in what could have been a major blow to Elon Musk's ambitious plans, Futurism reported.
On Friday, after the launch, the Dragon capsule autonomously docked with the orbiting outpost more than 260 miles above the Indian Ocean. The hatches swung open a couple hours later, uniting all 11 space travelers. However, the four astronauts who were still in the capsule were told to prepare for the worst.
There was no time to perform an avoidance maneuver and instead the astronauts were told to put on their pressurized suits in case of a collision, according to Futurism. "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, so the SpaceX team elected to have the crew don their pressure suits out of an abundance of caution," NASA spokesperson Kelly Humphries told Futurism.
"The object being tracked is classified as 'unknown'." The US Space Command said that the Pentagon told NASA of the possible collision at around 1:30pm on Friday - around seven hours after the initial launch.
After further analysis, NASA finally was assured that the spacecraft had avoided the collision. "The 18th Space Control Squadron quickly determined there was no conjunction threat, all aboard are safe and the spacecraft was not at risk," US Space Command spokesperson Erin Dick said.
However, the near miss from collision sounds easy but actually wasn't. Humphries said that in hindsight, the unidentified object was 45 kilometers from the spacecraft at its closest point, which was enough to pose a threat of a collision.
Ultimately, "there was no real danger to the crew or the spacecraft," Humphries added. The Endeavor lifted off atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, with both having been used on previous spaceflights.
The nearly 24-hour ride to the space station, which orbits some 250 miles above Earth, was scheduled to begin on Thursday but had to be delayed for a day by unfavorable weather forecasts along the rocket's flight path.
The new arrivals, representing the United States, France and Japan, will now spend six months at the space station and will replace four astronauts who will return to Earth in their own Dragon capsule on Wednesday. This is also the first time two SpaceX crew Dragons have been parked in space at the same time.