NASA is calling it an "orbital oopsy."
During a Thursday spacewalk outside of the International Space Station, NASA astronauts Jasmin Moghbeli and Loral O’Hara were tasked with replacing a bearing of an assembly allowing the station's solar arrays to stay pointed at the Sun.
But as they were getting to work, the pair "inadvertently lost" a "tool bag" in an "orbital oopsy," according to a NASA update, an object that was later spotted by flight controllers harmlessly floating off into the distance.
Fortunately, the tools "were not needed for the remainder of the spacewalk," allowing the two astronauts to return back inside.
More importantly, the bag's trajectory meant it was unlikely to "recontact" — or smack into — the space station, meaning the accident hopefully won't be a big deal.
It's far from the first time astronauts have lost track of tools in space. Back in 1965, NASA astronaut Ed White infamously lost a spare glove during a spacewalk outside of his Gemini 4 spacecraft. Over the decades, several other astronauts have lost other objects, from spare bolts in 2006 to an entire bag ironically containing a debris shield in 2017.
In some cases, tools are even intentionally jettisoned. Case in point, earlier this year, Russian cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin intentionally let a sizeable bundle of discarded hardware drift off into space.
"Bye bye," said one of the cosmonauts after letting go of the bundle during a livestream of the spacewalk. "Just flies beautifully."
The problem, of course, is that not every piece of space debris will stay out of the way of future space travelers. Scientists have long been worried about the sheer amount of junk littering our planet's orbit, something that's actively endangering the lives of astronauts.
While the latest space "snafu" likely won't pose any threat to the astronauts currently stationed on board the ISS, that doesn't mean there aren't any risks associated with losing track of a bolt or an entire tool bag during the next spacewalk.
More on astronauts littering: Cosmonauts Caught Littering Directly Into Space
Share This Article