NASA astronaut loses mirror during 6 hour spacewalk outside ISS
NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy, who had stepped out of the International Space Station for some battery work, lost a small mirror attached to the sleeve of his space suit .Updated: Jun 28, 2020, 01:27 IST
When we lose something, the first reaction is to look for it. But how do you search for something that is lost in space?
That’s what happened when a NASA astronaut who went spacewalking on Friday lost a mirror and ended up adding to the millions of pieces of junk orbiting around the Earth.
Commander Chris Cassidy, who had stepped out of the International Space Station (ISS) along with Bob Behnken to work on batteries, lost the 5-by-3 inches mirror attached to the sleeve of his space suit which quickly floated away from him.
The mirror came loose when the ISS was is darkness. Later when he checked his spacesuit sleeve in sunlight, Cassidy failed to find any clues that might explain how the mirror came off, according to media reports.
Spacewalking astronauts wear a wrist mirror on each of their sleeve to get a better view while working.
However, the lost item posed no risk to either the spacewalk or the station, according to NASA.
While millions of pieces of space debris orbit Earth, more than 20,000 items including old rocket parts and busted satellites are big enough to be tracked in order to safeguard the space station and working satellites, according to an AP report.
The mirror may have been lost forever, but the rest of the six-hour spacewalk went as planned.
Friday’s outing in space by Cassidy and Behnken was the first of at least four scheduled spacewalks to replace the last bunch of old ISS batteries. They removed five of six aging nickel-hydrogen batteries and installed two of three new lithium-ion batteries.
The duo’s next spacewalk is scheduled for July 1 when they will replace another set of old batteries.
Once all the new batteries are installed in the coming weeks, the orbiting lab should be good for the rest of its life, according to NASA.
Orbiting crews require power for just about everything they do in space - from cooking to running experiments. The battery replacements are needed to power the ISS through its planned mission extension to 2024, according to an article in space dot com.
Replacing the space station’s batteries has been a multi-year process for astronauts. The first such battery-related spacewalk happened in 2017 and the matter was last tackled during a series of all-women spacewalks that finished in January 2020.
Bob Behnken, who joined the ISS last month, returns to Earth in August.
Behnken, along with Doug Hurley, made history on May 30 when the duo became the first NASA astronauts to be launched into orbit on a commercial space vehicle –SpaceX’s Dragon capsule.
As Friday’s spacewalk ended, Cassidy thanked the cleaning staff at Mission Control in Houston, kept especially busy during “this crazy, interesting time.”
“Everything has to be cleaned and sanitized multiple times a day, so a special shoutout to the custodial staff at the Johnson Space Center,” he said.
Friday’s spacewalk was the 65th US spacewalk and the 228th spacewalk overall in support of space-station assembly, maintenance and upgrades, according to NASA.