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4 times NASA astronauts lost things in space

Grace Eliza Goodwin   

4 times NASA astronauts lost things in space
  • A NASA astronaut accidentally lost a tool bag in space earlier this month.
  • The lost bag is not a threat, and will just burn up in Earth's atmosphere.

A NASA astronaut accidentally let go of a tool bag in space while conducting repairs on the International Space Station (ISS) earlier this month.

And it turns out that it's not the first time astronauts have accidentally released items into the abyss of space. It's happened at least four times before to NASA astronauts — here's a breakdown of what happened each time.

An Astronaut dropped a tool bag during a spacewalk earlier this month

On November 2, NASA astronauts Jasmin Moghbeli and Loral O'Hara were conducting a few repairs on the ISS, NASA said in a press release.

During the spacewalk, which lasted 6 hours and 42 minutes, one of the two astronauts accidentally let go of a tool bag they had been using, sending it drifting off into space, according to NASA. Flight controllers later spotted the bag on external station cameras but determined that its trajectory was not a risk to the space station or its crew, NASA said.

When Moghbeli and O'Hara lost the bag, they no longer needed it to complete the repairs, NASA said.

The bag is expected to drift ahead of the space station for a few months before eventually burning up in the Earth's atmosphere, WKBN reported.

NASA astronauts lost a crucial piece of equipment in space in 2017

During a spacewalk in 2017, astronauts Peggy Whitson and Shane Kimbrough lost an item they needed to complete their work on the ISS: a bag containing a fabric debris shield meant to cover up an access point, the Washington Post reported at the time.

After the 18-pound bag was lost, teams at Mission Control back on Earth had to scramble to find another solution so that the access point wouldn't be exposed, according to the Post. But, they were able to quickly scrape together a substitute using other materials.

A NASA astronaut lost a bag worth $100,000 in 2008 while trying to clean up a leak

While conducting repairs outside the ISS on November 18, 2008, NASA astronaut Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper accidentally let her tool bag slip — and it was worth $100,000, The Register reported.

A grease gun inside the 30-pound bag had started to leak, and while Stefanyshyn-Piper was attempting to clean up the mess, the bag drifted out of her grasp, reported.

Stefanyshyn-Piper said in an interview after the incident that she considered jumping and grabbing the bag, according to

"Then I realized that it would just make everything worse, and then we'd have two floating objects, one of which would be me," she added. "So the best thing to do was just to let it go."

The first American spacewalker lost a glove in space in 1965

Losing something in space isn't just a modern-day phenomenon — the first American spacewalker, Ed White, lost a glove nearly 60 years ago during his first spacewalk.

On June 3, 1965, White stepped out of the Gemini 4 spacecraft to float in space for 20 minutes, according to NASA's Space Center Houston.

But while the capsule door was still open, one of his spare gloves floated out and off into space, Space Center Houston said.

You can even clearly spot the moment it happens in this video from NASA, around the 5:43 minute mark.

And it's not just NASA — earlier this year, a Russian cosmonaut tossed a tool bag into space on purpose

In May, Russian cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin were conducting a spacewalk outside the ISS when Prokopyev chucked an 11-pound bag of leftover equipment into the abyss, commenting, "It flies beautifully," Insider previously reported.

Some criticized Prokopyev for littering, but the ISS later tweeted that the bag would "harmlessly burn up in the Earth's atmosphere."