Lost in space: the astronauts’ toolbox
AP Wednesday, 19 November 2008
A spacewalking astronaut accidentally let go of her tool bag after a grease gun inside it exploded, and helplessly watched as it floated away with everything inside.
It was one of the largest items ever to be lost by a spacewalker, and occurred during an unprecedented attempt to clean and lube a gummed-up joint on a solar panel.
By Robert Roy Britt Senior Science Writer posted: 05:19 pm ET 19 October 2000
Thousands of nuts, bolts, gloves and other debris from space missions form an orbiting garbage dump around Earth, presenting a hazard to spacecraft. Some of the bits and pieces scream along at 17,500 mph.
When these objects fall back into Earth’s atmosphere, which they inevitably do, they behave just like any other meteor, lighting up the sky.
Profile of space junk:
- 8,927 man-made objects officially tracked (up from 8,841 in July 1999)
- 4 million pounds of stuff
- 110,000 total objects 1 centimeter and larger