- A NASA astronaut accidentally lost a tool bag in space earlier this month.
- The lost bag does not pose a threat and will simply burn up in Earth’s atmosphere.
- Astronauts have lost objects in space several times before.
A NASA astronaut accidentally dropped a tool bag into space while carrying out repairs on the International Space Station (ISS) earlier this month.
And it turns out this isn’t the first time astronauts have accidentally dropped objects into the abyss of space. It’s happened to NASA astronauts at least four times now – here’s a look at what happened each time.
Astronaut dropped tool bag during spacewalk earlier this month
On November 2, NASA astronauts Jasmin Moghbeli and Loral O’Hara were carrying out some repairs on the ISS, NASA said in a statement.
During the spacewalk, which lasted 6 hours and 42 minutes, one of the two astronauts accidentally dropped a tool bag they were using, sending it drifting into space, according to the NASA. Flight controllers then spotted the bag on the station’s external cameras but determined its trajectory did not pose a risk to the space station or its crew, NASA said.
When Moghbeli and O’Hara lost the bag, they no longer needed it to complete repairs, NASA said.
The bag is expected to drift past the space station for a few months before eventually burning up in Earth’s atmosphere, WKBN reported.
NASA astronauts lost crucial equipment in space in 2017
During a 2017 spacewalk, astronauts Peggy Whitson and Shane Kimbrough lost an item they needed to complete their work on the ISS: a bag containing a fabric debris shield intended to cover a hotspot, the Washington Post reported at the time.
After the 18-pound bag was lost, Mission Control teams on Earth had to scramble to find another solution so the access point wouldn’t be exposed, according to the Post. But they were able to quickly create a substitute using other materials.
A NASA astronaut lost a bag worth $100,000 in 2008 while trying to clean up a leak
While making repairs outside the ISS on November 18, 2008, NASA astronaut Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper accidentally let her tool bag slip — and it was worth $100,000, reported The Register.
A grease gun inside the 30-pound bag had started leaking, and as Stefanyshyn-Piper attempted to clean up the mess, the bag drifted out of her reach, Space.com reported.
Stefanyshyn-Piper said in an interview after the incident that she considered jumping and grabbing the bag, according to Space.com.
“Then I realized that would only make things worse and then we would have two floating objects, including me,” she added. “So the best thing to do was to let it go.”
The first American astronaut lost a glove in space in 1965
Losing something in space is not just a modern phenomenon: America’s first astronaut, Ed White, lost a glove almost 60 years ago during his first spacewalk.
On June 3, 1965, White exited the Gemini 4 spacecraft to float in space for 20 minutes, according to NASA’s Space Center Houston.
But while the capsule door was still open, one of his spare gloves floated into space, Space Center Houston said.
You can even clearly spot when it happens in this NASA video, around the 5:43 mark.
And it’s not just NASA: earlier this year, a Russian cosmonaut intentionally threw a tool bag into space.
In May, Russian cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin were conducting a spacewalk outside the ISS when Prokopyev threw an 11-pound bag containing leftover equipment into the abyss, commenting: ” It flies wonderfully,” Insider previously reported.
Some criticized Prokopyev for littering, but the ISS later tweeted that the bag would “burn harmlessly in Earth’s atmosphere.”
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