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Sun, Nov 12, 2023

Spacewalkers Lose Another Bag o’ Tools Outside the ISS

EVA Creates New Chunk of Space Debris

The ISS crew’s latest spacewalk was marred with some embarrassment after one of the team’s untethered tool bags separated from the crew and lost into a decaying orbit below.

The spacewalk was hoped to be a nice public relations opportunity, making use of an all-female crew for the November 1st EVA-89 repair mission. While astronauts Jasmin Moghbeli and Loral O’Hara were exiting the ISS to begin their work, the bag of tools slipped out into the cold reaches of space. NASA didn’t mention who exactly was at fault for the slip up, but such losses have proven to be an infrequent occurrence aboard the ISS. 

While much of the time, equipment is carefully tethered to suits and surfaces to prevent loss, transitions in EVA phases and the inherent weightlessness of the kit makes for an understandable accident. In 2009, astronaut Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper lost another bag in similar fashion. In that case, the tools took about 9 months to de-orbit and burn up in the atmosphere, ending the threat of high-speed orbital metal near the delicate assemblies of the ISS. 

Space enthusiasts were quick to catalog the highly visible tool kit, visible from Earth with only normal magnification. The piece has been cataloged as 58229 / 1998-067WC, and can reportedly be seen with binoculars or telescopes for those checking the orbit.



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