Lets start at the beginning. A static charge is exactly what it says ! It is a charge of electricity that is stationary or static. When this charge is able to move ( a conducting path is created by various means ), the speed at which it moves causes damage to electronic components. The charge may not be catastrophic ( totally destroying the device ) but worse it can degrade the component and it may pass final test, but will malfunction once out doing the job it was designed to do ! Obviously the further away from manufacture this occurs then the more expensive it is to repair.
I was consulted back in the early days of the ESD Industry by a major manufacturer of Satellites who was having a problem with a small chip blowing at final test when it was actually in the Satellite. We found the problem eventually ( technician using Tyvek Suit ) and the launch was able to go ahead on time.
The reason I am relating this story to you is because the life of this particular satellite was 12 years, it would only start making a profit for the Manufaturer after 8 years ! Imagine it running after a succesful launch for maybe 4 or 5 years and a degraded component malfunctions !! How much is that cost to the Customer and Manufacturer ? You can now begin to appreciate the importance of ESD protected areas being set up correctly and being checked on a regular basis.