The first incident came after Crew Dragons launched from the Falcon 9 rocket’s second stage, as debris from the front capsule broke off and was propelled back to the craft.
The piece, shown in the dramatic clip, shoots to the right and then pings back, missing the craft by seconds.
But then at 1.43pm ET, around six and a half hours later, the crew were alerted to a second «unknown object» heading straight for them.
The announcement came 20 minutes before the possible collision, forcing the crew to strap into their seats, with no time to perform an avoidance manoeuvre.
Instead, the astronauts onboard SpaceX’s recycled Crew Dragon capsule, the Endeavour, were told to put on their pressurized suits, reports Futurism.
«The NASA/SpaceX team was informed of the possible conjunction by US Space Command,» Nasa spokesman Kelly Humphries said.
«The object being tracked is classified as ‘unknown’.
“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 manoeuvre with confidence, so the SpaceX team elected to have the crew don their pressure suits out of an abundance of caution.»
The Pentagon had notified Nasa about the potential crash about seven hours after the spacecraft launched, US Space Command spokesman Erin Dick told Futurism.
“After further analysis, the 18th Space Control Squadron quickly determined there was no conjunction threat, all aboard are safe and the spacecraft was not at risk,” Dick said.
According to Nasa spokesman Humphries, the closest the UFO got to the spacecraft was 45 kilometers away, but «there was no real danger to the crew or the spacecraft.»
The team of four astronauts were propelled into orbit on SpaceX’s third crewed mission at 5.49am ET (10.49EST) from Nasa’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Friday — docking at the International Space Station yesterday.
The Endeavour lifted off atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Both have been used on previous spaceflights.
The nearly 24-hour ride to the space station, which orbits some 250 miles (400 km) above Earth, had been set to begin on Thursday.
However, the flight was delayed for a day by unfavourable weather forecasts along the rocket’s flight path.
The mission marks the second «operational» space station team to be launched by Nasa aboard a Dragon Crew capsule since the United States resumed flying astronauts into space from US soil last year.