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Interstellar Space Junk: Orbiting Tool Bag Visible from Earth After Astronauts Drop Satchel in Space

Tool Bag Dropped During Space Station Repairs Visible From Earth
Source: NASA/Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency

A photo taken by an astronaut on board the International Space Station shows the lost tool bag floating above the Earth.

Nov. 19 2023, Published 12:04 p.m. ET

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A new celestial spectacle awaits stargazers after astronauts doing maintenance on the International Space Station accidentally let a tool bag slip from their grips, sending it into orbit.

The tool bag is floating about 250 miles above the Earth, and is visible with binoculars, reported.

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A group of all-female astronauts jetted up to the space station recently to fix a solar panel and cable, among other repairs, according to NASA.

During their work, the astronauts let a white satchel-like bag of tools inadvertently slip away.

Flight controllers spotted the tool bag using external station cameras and determined it didn't pose enough of a safety risk to warrant attempts to retrieve it, NASA said.

The object entered the Earth's orbit just ahead of the space station, where it is expected to circle the planet for months before eventually entering the atmosphere and breaking up, according to

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Experts say while it remains in orbit it should be easy to spot with binoculars or a telescope because its white surface reflects rays from the sun.

NASA said on dark, clear nights the bag would be easiest to see, calling it the third-brightest object in the night sky.

As the bag gradually falls, it should appear between two and four minutes ahead of the International Space Station, according to The Indianapolis Star. The station can be tracked online at

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A Japanese astronaut captured a photo of the shiny bag as the space station passed over his country. A video circulating on X also gives a close-up view of the object floating near the station.

The lost bag adds to the estimated 11,000 tons of debris floating in the Earth's galaxy, according to numbers released by the European Space Agency.


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