Crew-5the important space mission of SpaceX, almost stops its launch due to the presence of a human hair in the hatch of the ship. Even with the four crew astronauts aboard the rocket-mounted capsule Falcon 9the takeoff was briefly aborted when someone noticed a single human hair in the hatch closure.
The incident occurred on October 5, when the team of SpaceX prepare to launch the ship Dragon Crew Stamina space out. Midway through the countdown, crew members had to reopen the hatch, thoroughly inspect and clean the watertight area, and then close the hatch. The process having lasted only a few minutes, the takeoff was carried out without major complications.
Why did a single hair almost ruin a mission?
In the space industry, something like that human hair on the hatch is considered a DOM (foreign object debris), which are objects that do not belong in a specific place inside the vessel, such as the engine, cabin, runway or, as in this case, the hatch seal.
This debris has the ability to damage equipment, cause systems to operate suboptimally, and even trigger a malfunction that could end up creating tragedy for the crew. As indicated Boeingthis problem affects many sectors, but in the space industry, it causes losses of 4 billion dollars a year.
Thomas Simondeputy director of spacecraft Johnson Space Center of the JARsaid Gizmodo that all astronauts have been trained from day one to be aware of FOD. “Foreign objects such as pencils, pliers, screwdrivers, hair and dust may seem minor, but could, among other things, cause a seal to slowly leak overboard. When we build systems, we take it seriously”says the expert.
“As an engineer, FODs are hardwired into your system. It is considered a major risk in training programs, as manufacturing defects can bring down rockets and planes.”said John Poseychief engineer of the JAR for crew dragonin this same conversation.
FOD Free Space Missions
Measures to prevent DOM introduced into components or complex systems from the “clean room”each of which has its own cleaning requirements depending on the schedule. posey explains that the “cleanrooms are specially certified and controlled to achieve a certain level of cleanliness depending on what they contain, and items generally must be approved before they can enter them”.
There are lockers for storing loose items and tape can secure items that should be in the clean room. Protective straps can catch anything that might accidentally fall, and the suits cover the astronauts’ arms and can be fitted with a hood with a hair net. The beards are covered with special nets, and the shoes have slippers.
“Once you are set and ready, you go through a double door. It closes behind you then you enter the white room. In the middle rooms of some double doors, air blows on you, sucking in dust or debris. Staff collect the remains found and investigate where they came from and whether further checks are needed. Clean rooms are never clean enough”said posey.
Although these measures can be extremely complicated, they are necessary to ensure the elimination of any element that could endanger human life. Fortunately, the detection of DOM improves over time cameras, x-rays and CT scanswho are able to identify said objects that sometimes go unnoticed by the human eye.
We recommend you METADATA, RPP’s technology podcast. News, analysis, reviews, recommendations and everything you need to know about the technological world.