CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – An astronaut walking through space joined the chunks of trash orbiting Earth on Friday, losing a small mirror as soon as he left the International Space Station to work on batteries.
Commander Chris Cassidy said the mirror floated away at about a foot per second.
Mission Control said the mirror somehow detached from Cassidy’s spacesuit. The lost item does not pose a risk to the spacewalk or the station, NASA said.
Spacewalk astronauts wear a wrist mirror on each sleeve for better views while working. The mirror measures just 5 inches by 3 inches, and along with its band it has a mass of just a tenth of a pound.
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Cassidy and Bob Behnken, who followed smoothly, were conducting the first of at least four spacewalks to replace the station’s last set of old batteries.
Once the six new lithium-ion batteries are installed, the orbiting lab should be good for the rest of its operational life, according to NASA. The large, square batteries, more powerful and efficient than the outgoing old nickel-hydrogen batteries, keep the station running when it is on the night side of Earth.
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Battery replacements started in 2017, with previous teams putting in 18 lithium-ion batteries, half of which replaced older ones.
Cassidy and Behnken have six more to plug in before the job is complete. It’s cumbersome work: each battery is about a meter (meter) tall and wide, with a mass of 400 pounds (180 kilograms).
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His spacewalks are expected to continue until July before Behnken returns to Earth in August aboard a SpaceX Dragon capsule.
Behnken and Doug Hurley made history in late May with SpaceX’s first astronaut launch.
This was the seventh spacewalk for both men. Each one has spent more than 30 hours in the emptiness of space.
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