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New York: Lost: one tool bag. Last seen this month floating through space near the International Space Station. If found, please return to NASA.
Two NASA astronauts set out on November 1 for their first spacewalk around the space station to take care of some routine maintenance. The astronauts, Major Jasmin Moghbeli and Loral O’Hara, spent 6 hours and 42 minutes outside the space station removing a handling bar fixture and replacing a bearing.
But when they reentered the space station, they noticed that something was missing.
“During the activity, one tool bag was inadvertently lost,” NASA said in an update on its website about the spacewalk.
The tools in the bag were not needed for all the spacewalk, NASA said. Mission Control said the bag’s trajectory posed a low risk of colliding with the space station.
The bag is now floating through space, about 400 kilometres above Earth. And it’ll be there for a while.
EarthSky, a website that tracks happenings in space, said the white, bright tool bag would most likely remain in space for a few months and then disintegrate.
This photograph taken by a Japanese astronaut aboard the ISS shows the lost tool bag over Earth.Credit: Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency/NASA
It’s unclear what kind of tools were in the bag. NASA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
With clear sky and a pair of binoculars, people on Earth may be able to see the wayward bag, EarthSky said. The key is to look up towards the space station, then look around for the bag, according to EarthSky.
The two astronauts are not the first to lose a tool bag during a spacewalk. A tool bag floated away from an astronaut in 2008 while she performed some maintenance outside the space station.
The bag is now among thousands of objects floating through space. The European Space Agency said in September that there were more than 35,000 debris objects in space, which are tracked and catalogued by space surveillance networks. Those items could include tools such as grease guns and bolts, and they are tracked to avoid damaging satellites.
There are also thousands of smaller “debris objects” floating in space that are not tracked, according to the agency.
O’Hara and Moghbeli of the US Marine Corps have been on the space station for several weeks. O’Hara docked onto the space station aboard a Soyuz rocket on September 15, according to NASA. Moghbeli docked onto the space station on August 27 as the commander of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-7 mission aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft, the agency said.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.
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