See It: Lost NASA Tool Bag Is Now Orbiting Earth!

An astonishing image captures a tool bag drifting away in space, unintentionally lost during a recent spacewalk by NASA astronauts. The incident occurred as flight controllers observed the equipment inadvertently escaping into space.

This lost tool kit was later photographed by Satoshi Furukawa, a member of JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency), from the International Space Station (ISS), located 255 miles above Earth. The bag is expected to orbit Earth for several months, gradually descending to an altitude of 70 miles before disintegrating in Earth’s atmosphere.

On November 1, astronauts Jasmin Moghbeli and Loral O’Hara embarked on a spacewalk, lasting 6 hours and 42 minutes, to conduct various tasks, including repairing a solar power array. During their preparations to work on a communications electronics box, the tool bag was seen floating away by flight controllers.

(From left) Expedition 70 Flight Engineers Jasmin Moghbeli and Loral O'Hara, both from NASA
(From left) Expedition 70 Flight Engineers Jasmin Moghbeli and Loral O’Hara, both from NASA, pictured on Oct. 20, 2023 wearing Bio-Monitor headbands packed with sensors that monitor an astronaut’s health and physiological parameters while minimally interfering with their crew activities. (Credit: NASA)

NASA swiftly evaluated the situation to determine if the drifting kit posed a collision risk with the space station. The risk was found to be minimal, allowing the bag to continue its unplanned journey into space.

NASA did not disclose who was responsible for the tool bag.

The astronauts’ agenda included the removal and storage of a communications electronics box, named the Radio Frequency Group. However, due to time constraints, they were unable to complete this task during their spacewalk. They lifted some multilayer insulation for a better assessment of the task, before reapplying it and postponing the work to a future spacewalk.

NASA spokesperson Mark Garcia provided an explanation in a statement: “During the activity, one tool bag was inadvertently lost. Flight controllers spotted the tool bag using external station cameras. The tools were not needed for the remainder of the spacewalk. Mission Control analyzed the bag’s trajectory and determined that risk of recontacting the station is low and that the onboard crew and space station are safe with no action required.”

NASA tool bag orbiting Earth.
Photo taken November 2, 2023 by JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency). Astronaut Satoshi Furukawa shows the tool bag orbiting Earth. (Credit: JAXA)

Despite the mishap, Moghbeli and O’Hara successfully achieved one of the primary objectives of their spacewalk. They replaced one of the 12 trundle bearing assemblies on the port solar alpha rotary joint, enabling the solar arrays to track the Sun and generate electricity for the station. Following the bearing replacement, Mission Control confirmed the solar array’s effective functioning.

Additionally, the astronauts removed a handling bar fixture in preparation for the future installation of a roll-out solar array. They also adjusted a cable that had been obstructing an external camera, ensuring its proper configuration.

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