Millions of pieces of space junk are orbiting Earth these days, but what’s another piece of debris in the junk cloud?
According to NASA Recent spacewalk report, International Space Station residents Jasmine Moghbeli and Loral O’Hara spent nearly seven hours making various repairs to the sun-tracking solar panel array. However, while on duty, one of the “crew lock bags” (toolkit in astronaut parlance) accidentally came loose and set adrift before either astronaut could catch them. While not a big problem in itself, this definitely brings to light (again) the growing problem hanging over humanity’s head.
[Related: The FCC just dished out their first space junk fine.]
Fortunately, there was nothing important in the lock bag.in Separate press conference Last week, ISS Deputy Program Manager Dana Weigel said the contents of the bag included “something like a few tethers and tool sockets” similar to everyday household items, which would be useful to the crew. He said it was a “fairly common item” that would not have a “big impact”. Most importantly, air traffic controllers observed the bag’s current orbital trajectory and determined that the risk of “re-contact” with the ISS was low and “no action was necessary.”
Meganne Christian, a member of the European Space Agency’s astronaut class of 2022, shared the clip on social media Shot from Mogbeli’s helmet camera, it shows the toolbag escaping into the depths of space.
Because the toolbag is not in a stable orbit, experts estimate it will disintegrate into Earth’s atmosphere sometime in March 2024. Given its size, there is no need to stress or monitor the missing equipment as it will be completely burnt out during the descent. Unless, of course, that’s your thing.
The U.S. Space Force has already cataloged the new orbital debris as follows: 58229/1998-067WC, and track its movements throughout its lifespan.Hit registerthe brightness of the tool bag is Stellar magnitude +6This means that under perfect weather conditions, we might be able to witness atmospheric entry with the naked eye. That said, using binoculars will probably increase your chances of seeing its fiery end.
[Related: Some space junk just got smacked by more space junk, complicating cleanup.]
But one toolbag’s atmospheric cremation will do little to solve the ongoing space junk problem. After years of expanding orbital industries, Earth is surrounded by discarded rocket debris, satellites, and all manner of space travel debris.The target of the recent space debris cleanup project is another A little trash.
Thankfully, government regulators are taking notice, too, with the FCC issuing its first space disciplinary action against satellite television provider Dish Network earlier this year for failing to properly retire one of its satellites last year. Pollution fines were imposed. No penalties will be imposed on ISS astronauts Moghbeli and O’Hara. After all, they aren’t the first astronauts to drop the bag, so to speak. In 2008, two ISS astronauts I accidentally lost it The kit includes “two grease guns, a scraper, some wipes and tethers, and some tool caddies.”
Updated November 17, 2023, 12:20 PM: The Virtual Telescope Project has published this image taken on November 15, 2023. The toolbag continues to zoom around Earth at about 17,500 miles per hour until its expected deorbit in March 2024.