Spacewalking astronaut loses mirror, latest space junk

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) – A space-walking astronaut added to Earth’s troop on Friday and lost a small mirror as soon as he left the International Space Station for battery work.

Commander Chris Cassidy said the mirror drifted about three feet per second.

Mission Control said the mirror somehow got loose from Cassidy’s spacesuit. The lost object posed no risk to the spacewalk or the station, NASA said.

Space-walking astronauts wear a wrist mirror on each sleeve for better visibility while working. The mirror is only 5 inches by 3 inches and together with its band has a mass of barely one-tenth of a pound.

Cassidy and Bob Behnken, who followed him without accident, performed the first of at least four spacewalks to replace the last group of old station batteries.

Once the six new lithium-ion batteries are installed, NASA’s orbit lab should be good for the rest of its operational life, according to NASA. The large, boxy batteries – more powerful and efficient than the old nickel-hydrogen batteries that come out – cause the station to buzz when it’s on the night side of Earth.

The replacement of the batteries started in 2017, with previous crews installing 18 lithium-ion batteries, half as many as the old ones.

Cassidy and Behnken have to connect six more before the job is done. It’s laborious work: each battery is about a meter high and wide, with a mass of 400 pounds (180 kilograms).

Their spacewalks are expected to continue through 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 launch of the astronaut.

This was the seventh spacewalk for both men. Each has spent more than 30 hours in the vacuum of space.

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