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Astronauts Jasmin Moghbeli and Loral O'Hara conduct a spacewalk on November 1st 2023 at the International Space Station (Youtube: NASA TV)

Bag of tools joins orbital debris

By Adam Riley Nov 16, 2023 | 8:43 AM

There is a new object orbiting the Earth, its not a space station or satellite….its a tool bag.

In a blog post NASA says the bag floated away during a spacewalk at the International Space Station on November 1st.

It happened as astronauts were replacing part of the stations solar power generating system.

Flight controllers on the ground spotted the bag on a camera as it floated away as the station passed by Mount Fuji, fortunately they were not needed to complete the work.

Its trajectory has been analyzed and fortunately it poses a low risk of colliding with the station.

On social media Dr. Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, says the bag has been officially catalogued as 58229 / 1998-067WC in a 415 by 416 km orbit.

It is possible to track the new mini satellite for the ISS by visiting a tracking website, and sky watchers should be able to see it pass by just a few minutes ahead of the station.

In a later post McDowell notes the bag should re-enter the upper atmosphere in a few months and will burn up.

According to the European Space Agency there are more than 35 thousand debris objects in space being tracked, and if you were to take into account all the space junk and satellites space capable nations have launched into orbit the combined mass of more than 11 thousand tonnes.