Tense exchange aboard SpaceX craft records a “false report” of a ‘possible close call’

Live video caught the tense moment that astronauts aboard NASA’s Crew-2 mission were warned about a possible collision with an unidentified object. The warning of a possible collision was in fact based on a “false report.”

“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, according to video broadcast live by NASA and SpaceX. “As such, we do need you to immediately proceed with suit donning and securing yourselves in seats.”

Gilles added that the earliest time of the possible collision was less than 20 minutes away, too soon to maneuver the ship away from its course.

“Copy, Sarah, you want us in the suit for a possible close call,” Crew-2 astronaut Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency radioed back.

The warning came at roughly 1:30 p.m. ET Friday as the crew was preparing to sleep inside the Dragon Crew Capsule en route to the International Space Station. About 10 minutes later, pilot Megan McArthur tells Gilles that two of the crew members are “suited and getting seated” and the remaining two “are getting in their suits now.”

Moments later, Gilles notified the crew that “we believe the object is farther away than anticipated, lower risk of possible conjunction.” And minutes later, Gilles confirmed that the object had passed.

A spokesman for the NASA Johnson Space Center said the warning of a possible collision was in fact based on a “false report.”