One giant panty for the woman! NASA astronauts drop their toolbox during rare all-female spacewalk (and experts say it’s visible from Earth)
- The schoolbag-sized bag was dropped while they were performing external maintenance
- It now orbits the Earth a few minutes ahead of the ISS, at a speed of about 28,000 km/h
Forget meteors and the Northern Lights. For sky watchers, the real spectacle is a toolbox lost in space.
The satchel-sized bag was dropped by astronauts earlier this month while performing remote maintenance work on the International Space Station (ISS).
It floated away before they noticed and is now orbiting the Earth a few minutes ahead of the ISS, traveling at about 17,000 mph.
Despite the fact that the pocket is located 320 kilometers above the Earth’s surface, experts believe that it should be possible to see it through binoculars or a telescope because its white surface strongly reflects the sun’s rays.
The tool bag was used by NASA’s Jasmin Moghbeli and Loral O’Hara during a rare all-female spacewalk to repair a solar panel.
Forget meteors and the Northern Lights. For sky watchers, the real spectacle is a toolbox lost in space
The satchel-sized bag was dropped by astronauts earlier this month as they performed remote maintenance work on the International Space Station (ISS)
His position was confirmed by their Japanese colleague Satoshi Furukawa, who realized he had accidentally photographed it while taking a photo of Mount Fuji as the ISS passed over his homeland.
NASA auditors have calculated that the toolbox poses no risk to the station and expect it to burn up in the coming months if it falls into Earth’s atmosphere.
It is classified as space junk and assigned the ID number 58229/1998-067WC.
The toolkit wanted to see Mount Fuji, I think
Ms Moghbeli told mission control after the bag was spotted: ‘In the most unlikely event, Satoshi was actually… taking pictures of Mount Fuji and also took a nice photo of a lost item, yesterday’s nice crew lock bag. He wanted to see Mount Fuji, I think.”
The astronauts planned to remove a communications device called the radio frequency group, but were running out of time for their six-hour spacewalk.
They had removed some insulation to get a better view of the task ahead, and it is thought the bag floated away in the process.
It floated away before they noticed and is now orbiting the Earth a few minutes ahead of the ISS, traveling at about 17,000 miles per hour.
According to astronomy website Earthsky.org, it should be possible to spot the toolkit on a clear night “with good binoculars.”
It says that as the bag loses altitude, it will appear two to four minutes ahead of the ISS in the coming days. Mission controllers have joked that the plane should have been fitted with Apple’s AirTag tracking device so it could be picked up from the crew in the next orbit.
If it resembles a bag lost by astronaut Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper in 2008, the cost of replacing it could be up to £82,000.
She lost hers when she cleaned a leaking grease gun while working on one of the space shuttle Endeavor’s solar panels. Some amateur astronomers even held “tool viewing parties” to keep track of the bag as it orbited the Earth for months.