SpaceX ‘s Crew-5 liftoff was briefly interrupted by the presence of a human hair, insignificant as this item may seem.
Crew-5 , SpaceX ‘s major space mission , almost stopped its launch due to the presence of a human hair in the ship’s hatch. Even with the four astronaut crew aboard the capsule mounted on the Falcon 9 rocket , liftoff was briefly interrupted when someone noticed a single human hair in the hatch closure.
The incident occurred on October 5, when the SpaceX team was preparing to launch the Crew Dragon Endurance ship into space. In the middle of the countdown, the crew members had to reopen the hatch, inspect and thoroughly clean the sealing area, and close the hatch again. Because the process only lasted a few minutes, the takeoff was carried out without major complications.
Why did a single hair nearly spoil a mission?
In the space industry, an item like this human hair on the hatch is called a FOD (Foreign Object Debris), which is stuff that doesn’t belong in a specific place inside the ship like the engine. , the cabin, the runway or, as in this case, the hatch seal.
This debris has the ability to damage equipment, cause systems to perform suboptimally, and even trigger a malfunction that could end up creating a tragedy for the crew. According to what Boeing indicates , this problem affects many sectors, but in the space industry it causes losses of US$4 billion a year.
Tom Simon , deputy director of spacecraft at NASA’s Johnson Space Center , told Gizmodo that all astronauts have been trained from day one to watch out for FODs. “Foreign items such as pencils, clips, screwdrivers, hair and dust may seem minor, but could, among other things, lead to a seal slowly escaping overboard. When we build systems, we take it seriously ,” said the expert.
“As an engineer, FODs are ingrained in your system. It is considered a major risk in training programs, as manufacturing flaws can bring down rockets and planes ,” said John Posey , NASA chief engineer for Crew Dragon , in this same conversation.