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 Nov. 1 for their first spacewalk around the International Space Station to take care of some routine maintenance. The astronauts, Maj. Jasmin Moghbeli and Loral O’Hara, spent six hours and 42 minutes outside the station removing a handling bar fixture and replacing a bearing.
But when they re-entered the space station, they noticed that something was missing: their tool bag.
“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 of the spacewalk, NASA said. Mission Control said that the bag’s trajectory posed a low risk of colliding with the space station.
The bag is now floating through space, about 250 miles above the Earth. And it’ll be there for a while.
EarthSky, a website that tracks happenings in space, said that the white, bright tool bag would most likely remain in space for a few months and then disintegrate.
It’s unclear what kind of tools were in the bag. NASA did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday night.
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 toward the space station, then look around for the bag, according to EarthSky.
The two astronauts are not the first two lose a tool bag during a spacewalk. A tool bag floated away from an astronaut in 2008 while she performed some maintenance outside the station.
The bag lost this month 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 cataloged by space surveillance networks. Those items could include tools like 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.
Ms. O’Hara and Maj. Moghbeli of the U.S. Marine Corps have been on the International Space Station for several weeks. Ms. O’Hara docked onto the station aboard a Soyuz rocket on Sept. 15, according to NASA. Maj. Moghbeli docked onto the station on Aug. 27 as the commander of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-7 mission aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft, the agency said.