NASA astronauts Jasmin Moghbeli and Loral O’Hara accidentally lost a toolbox during a spacewalk on November 2.
The spacewalk was conducted for scheduled maintenance and checks of the International Space Station (ISS). The astronauts spent six hours and 42 minutes in space, but after a few hours, they noticed that the toolbox had floated away.
NASA reported that flight controllers spotted the lost tool bag using external station cameras. Fortunately, the tools inside the bag were not needed for the rest of the mission. The tool bag is being monitored, and engineers have determined that the risk of it recontacting the station is low.
The trajectory analysis by Mission Control suggests that the tool bag is unlikely to return to hit the space station, ensuring the safety of the crew and the ISS. However, the toolbox is now classified as “space junk” and has been given a unique number, 58229/1998-067WC, by the US Space Force.
This incident recalls a similar occurrence in November 2008 when astronaut Heide Stefanyshyn-Piper lost a toolbox during a spacewalk. The current toolbox is expected to burn up in Earth’s atmosphere as it gets closer to our planet in the coming months.
It’s worth noting that space debris, or “space junk,” is an increasing concern, with an estimated 100,000 such items currently orbiting the Earth.