Astronauts Just Lost A Part Of The ISS Accidentally – Fly Away Debris Shield
Two veteran US astronauts were in the middle of a spacewalk when a 1.5m (5ft) debris shield being installed on the International Space Station (ISS) drifted away. Peggy Whitson, world’s most experienced female spacewalker informed the control rooms that a bag of debris shield had floated away. This incident happened on Thursday at about 10am EDT/1400 GMT. Whitson and her colleague Shane Kimbrough were in the middle of their 6.5-hour spacewalk and were preparing a docking port for commercial space taxis.
Debris shield gets away
Whitson is extremely famous and this was her 8th spacewalk. She has been successful in surpassing the 50-hour, 40-minute record total cumulative spacewalk time by a female astronaut. The record was held by Sunita Williams before this. The ISS cameras showed the bag floating away. According to NASA, this bag did not pose any threat to either the astronauts or the $100 billion research facility floating 250 miles above the Earth.
According to NASA spokesman Dan Huot, “Teams are focused on completing the (spacewalk) and will review the events as they unfolded after it is completed.” Marcia Dunn for the Associated Press said that this lost shielding protected the station from micrometeorite debris. It was among the 4 pieces that Whitson and Kimbrough were installing for the docking port. It is still not clear how this shield got away but in the meanwhile the astronauts were able to cover the gap in the docking port with a temporary cover. This cover will be able to protect the station and will provide it thermal shielding.
Very often astronauts lose items in space but it has been a while since something so huge slipped away. Last time it was in 2008 when an astronaut lost hold of her tool box. The debris shield will eventually be pulled into the Earth’s atmosphere and will burn. But till then the shield will join other orbiting pieces of trash.