Spacewalking astronaut loses mirror, newest space junk

CAPE CANAVERAL (AP) — A spacewalking astronaut added to the millions of pieces of junk orbiting the Earth on Friday, losing a small mirror on his sleeve as soon as he emerged from the International Space Station (ISS) for battery work. Commander Chris Cassidy said the mirror quickly floated away.

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, over 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.

Spacewalking astronauts wear a wrist mirror on each sleeve to get better views while working. The mirror is just seven-by-12 centimetres, and together with its band has a mass of barely 50 grammes.

The mirror came loose in darkness. Cassidy inspected his spacesuit sleeve later in sunlight but did not see any clues that might explain how the mirror came off. The rest of the six-hour spacewalk went swimmingly.