Butter-fingered astronauts drop tool bag in space - it’s now orbiting Earth

Publish Date
Tuesday, 14 November 2023, 9:21AM


A stray tool bag accidentally dropped by an astronaut on a space walk is currently orbiting Earth and has been caught on camera by a co-worker on the International Space Station (ISS).

The kit bag was in the possession of Nasa astronauts Jasmin Moghbeli and Loral O’Hara as they fixed a solar panel on the ISS last week, 200 miles above Earth.

The bag was seen drifting into space at the end of the six-hour space walk, and hasty calculations determined it was unlikely to pose any risk.

The bag will now slowly orbit the Earth for several months before eventually entering our planet’s atmosphere and disintegrating.
The blunder on November 1 was photographed by Satoshi Furukawa, a Japanese colleague of the Americans.

Furukawa is on board the ISS with the Japanese space agency Jaxa and took a picture of the drifting tools accidentally as he was photographing Mount Fuji while passing over his native nation.

“In the most improbable of events, Satoshi was actually … taking photos of Mount Fuji and also captured a nice photo of a lost item, the nice crew lock bag from yesterday,” Moghbeli told mission control on November 2. “It wanted to see Mount Fuji, I guess.”

The Nasa headquarters seemed to take the loss of equipment in good spirits, joking that they should have put an AirTag, a tracking device developed by Apple, in the bag so the crew could retrieve the lost kit the next time they complete an orbit.

The astronauts had planned to remove and stow a communications electronics box called the Radio Frequency Group but ran out of time.

During the assessment of this task’s feasibility, the duo lifted some insulation to get a better view of the job, and it is thought one bag was accidentally misplaced during this process.

“During the activity, one tool bag was inadvertently lost. Flight controllers spotted the tool bag using external station cameras,” said Mark Garcia, a Nasa spokesperson.

“The tools were not needed for the remainder of the space walk. Mission Control analysed the bag’s trajectory and determined that the risk of recontacting the station is low and that the onboard crew and space station are safe, with no action required.”

This article was first published on nzherald.co.nz

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