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Tool bag in space: The risk that the bag could have contact with the ISS again is low, according to NASA

Photo: Satoshi Furukawa / NASA

The spacewalk by Jasmin Moghbeli and Loral O'Hara on 6 November lasted 42 hours and 1 minutes, leaving the International Space Station (ISS) for repair work. During the trip into space, for example, the astronauts replaced a swivel bearing on a connection of a solar system, which is crucial for the power supply of the station.

And a mishap has happened to them, as has now become known. Accidentally, the US space agency Nasa wrote, a tool bag was lost. Moghbeli and O'Hara were lucky in their misfortune. "The tools were no longer needed for the rest of the spacewalk," NASA said.

Tool bag no danger to ISS

Flight controllers had discovered the tool bag with the help of cameras from the outstation. The crew and space station were not in danger, mission control said after analyzing the trajectory of the tool bag.

Flying objects can pose a threat to the ISS. Due to a possible collision with space debris, the ISS has already had to be evacuated in the past, and it has to change its trajectory again and again to avoid it. But the risk that the tool bag could collide with the ISS is low, so no further measures are necessary, NASA said.

From Earth, however, the lost bag can be traced, as the portal EarthSky reports. "Observers of the night sky might catch a glimpse of them," it says. It is surprisingly bright for a tool bag, so it should be visible with binoculars. "The strategy is to observe the trajectory of the ISS and scan the sky in the area just ahead of the space station."

The bag could remain in Earth's orbit for a few months, according to EarthSky. Unlike the ISS, however, the pocket will sink rapidly in orbit until it reaches an altitude of a few tens of kilometers and eventually disintegrates. It is estimated that this could happen in March 2024.

The bag is not the first to go into space in this way. In 2008, for example, astronaut Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper also lost a tool bag. It slipped away from her as she was removing grease from her gloves and from the inside of the bag that had leaked from a tool gun. Earlier, a grease gun had exploded in the pocket.