SpaceX Delayed Its NASA Astronaut Launch Because Of A Red ‘Nail Polish’ Material

by : Daniel Richardson on : 30 Oct 2020 14:22
Lelê Breveglieri/Flickr/PA Images

In an unconventional chain of event, Falcon-9 had to abort lift off two seconds before it began its ascent, and it has now been revealed to be due to a red ‘nail polish’ material.

On October 2, NASA and SpaceX had to cancel the satellite GPS III SV04 because of an issue with the Falcon-9 rocket. As a result of this cancellation and subsequent investigation, the launch of the Crew-1 mission was delayed.


The findings from the investigation have now revealed that a tiny amount of lacquer (similar to nail polish) caused the automatic cancellation of the original mission and as a result, there shouldn’t be an issue with further launches.

SpaceX finds red nail polishSpaceX

The lacquer is used in the anodizing process which treats the aluminium parts of the gas generator. This lacquer is usually removed but upon investigation, it was found that it 2mm of it had become embedded in the Falcon-9. SpaceX’s Hans Koenigsmann has relayed this issue on to the public and also noted that it is useful to know for future missions how small factors like this can impact a launch.

The vice president of build and flight reliability explained how this may have happened and how SpaceX will move forward:


It’s certainly possible that we had cases of it earlier, and they were appreciably so harmless that we completely missed them.

Rocketry is tough and requires a lot of attention to detail. t’s always a challenge. It’s always difficult. You have to be on your toes to get this right.

SpaceX Launches Earth Observation Satellite for Argentina in Cape Canaveral, US - 30 Aug 2020PA Images

In terms of missions, the Crew-1 take off will now commence on November 14 with new engines. It seems that the nail polish like material caused a lot of trouble given its minute nature. Nonetheless, both the teams at NASA and SpaceX will likely be pleased that they are aware of such issues and now have taken the time to fix problems before the launch of the astronauts.

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Daniel Richardson

After graduating from university, Dan went on to work with a variety of tech startups and media outlets. Through working with the likes of Game Rant, The Hook and What Culture, Dan pursued his interests in technology. The skills he picked up along the way are now being utilised with UNILAD.

Topics: Technology, Elon Musk, NASA, Now, SpaceX, Tech