“That’s been missing for eight years!”

Lost and found in orbit.

kjell w fruit.jpg
Kjell Lindgren corrals fruit into a bag onboard the station. At least oranges should be easy to find.

Astronauts lose things in space all the time. As shuttle veteran Tom Jones wrote in 2010:

No matter how well you Velcro your pockets, how carefully you duct-tape an item to the bulkhead, or how tightly you pull the drawstring on your ditty bag, some vital piece of gear will go missing…. In free fall, objects have an uncanny ability to escape, then evade a search.

Most things eventually turn up. The space station crew knows from experience to look first near the air inlets, where moving air currents are likely to concentrate any lost items. But some things float off, never to be seen again.

The other day astronaut Kjell (pronounced “Chell”) Lindgren was clearing out one of the experiment lockers on the station, and found a couple of random objects he couldn’t identify. He duly reported the find in a routine crew note sent down to the ground, and a little later heard back from Capcom Cindy Koester: One item, a part from the airlock’s Pressure Control Assembly (PCA), had been missing for quite a while. (It was supposed to have been stowed in the adjacent locker.) Here’s Koester:

A couple of hours later, Koester came back with another ID—of an EVA (spacewalk) shaft last seen in 2010. She joked that Lindgren and friends must have sneaked out for an unauthorized spacewalk when they were LOS (loss of signal, or out of contact) with the ground:

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