NASA Astronauts Drop $100,000 Tool Bag in Space, Visible with Binoculars

Story by: (Tech Blog)


NASA announced that two of its astronauts, Loral O’Hara and Jasmin Moghbeli, accidentally dropped a tool bag worth $100,000 during a spacewalk that started at 1:09 p.m. ET on November 1, 2023.

The tool bag, which weighs about 30 pounds (14 kg) and is about the size of a small backpack, contains various tools and equipment, is now orbiting Earth and can be seen with binoculars.

The astronauts were conducting a maintenance spacewalk outside the International Space Station (ISS) to fix the port solar alpha rotary joint, when the tool bag eluded them.

The tool bag, officially known as a crew lock bag, is orbiting in the sky just ahead of the ISS, with a visual magnitude of around 6.

This means the lost tool bag is at the limit of visibility for the human eye under ideal conditions, but it can be seen with binoculars or a small telescope.

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Image credit: @SPACEdotcom

Some skywatchers are also trying to spot the tool bag as it passes over their location, because it is rare and unusual to see a human-made object floating in space.

Image credit: @PopSci

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The tool bag can be seen in the evening sky from mid-northern latitudes, such as the United States, Canada, and Europe, until late November.

It can also be seen in the morning sky from southern latitudes, such as Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, until early December.

The tool bag has been officially cataloged as space junk ID 58229 / 1998-067WC, and it was seen on Sunday by Japanese astronaut Satoshi Furukawa floating over Mount Fuji.

The tool bag is expected to remain in orbit until March 2024, when it will descend to an altitude of 70 miles (112 km) and disintegrate in the atmosphere.

This is not the first time that astronauts have lost a tool bag in space. In 2008, NASA astronaut Heide Stefanyshyn-Piper also dropped a tool bag during a spacewalk due to a malfunction.

NASA also said that it will review the incident and take measures to prevent similar occurrences in the future.

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