Footage of the moment a piece of space junk narrowly missed four astronauts on board the SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule has emerged.
The spacecraft spectacularly docked at the station on Saturday, nearly 24 hours after its departure from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida.
But the NASA Crew-2 mission had a moment of suspense on Friday as the spacecraft escaped being missed by a piece of debris, known as conjunction, by a whisker.
The four astronauts on board were about to go to sleep after a long day of outer space travel when the encounter happened at about 1:43 p.m. EDT (1743 GMT), Space.com reports.
“For awareness, we have identified a late breaking possible conjunction with a fairly close miss distance to Dragon,” SpaceX’s Sarah Gilles told the astronauts.
“As such, we do need you to immediately proceed with suit donning and securing yourselves in seats.”
But by 1:44 and after realising the debris was further than expected, the astronauts got the all-clear.
“Dragon, SpaceX, we have passed TCA with no impact,” Gilles said of the debris.
The crew managed to land safely on the International Space Station (ISS) the next day.
The rocket and capsule launched from Nasa’s Kennedy Space Centre in Florida just before 11am UK time on Friday.
Controllers on the ground and the four astronauts monitored the docking, but the main maneuvers were directed by computers.
The Crew Dragon spacecraft, which was designed by billionaire technology entrepreneur Elon Musk’s company, came in to dock at around 10.19am UK time – two minutes before its scheduled arrival.
Frenchman Thomas Pesquet is the first European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut to ride in the spacecraft.
Also on board are Nasa astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur and Jaxa’s (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) Akihiko Hoshide on his second mission to the ISS.
The crew are expected to stay on the space station for a tour of six months.