In a recent spacewalk outside the International Space Station (ISS), astronauts Jasmin Moghbeli and Loral O’Hara accidentally let a tool bag float away, beyond their reach. The tool bag is now orbiting Earth ahead of the space station, circling the planet at the same velocity of 17,500 miles per hour (28,000 kilometers per hour) as the ISS. It is currently cataloged as a +6th magnitude object, slightly below the visibility limit to the naked eye.
This isn’t the first time that tools have been misplaced during a spacewalk outside the ISS. In 2009, a tool bag met its fiery demise in Earth’s atmosphere after floating away from NASA astronaut Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper months earlier. While the lost tool bag does not pose a threat to the space station itself, the growing amount of space junk in Earth’s orbit increases the risk of potential collisions with spacecraft and potential damage.
The tool bag is expected to remain in orbit for a few months before losing altitude and disintegrating in Earth’s atmosphere. At present, it serves as a reminder for the astronauts who lost it.