George Dvorsky | Gizmodo
The external pallet packed with old nickel-hydrogen batteries, photographed shortly after being released by the Canadarm2 robotic arm. The object was orbiting 265 miles (427 km) above Chile when this photo was taken from the ISS.Image: NASA
Weighing 2.9 tons and traveling 4.8 miles per second, this heap of old batteries is now the heaviest single piece of garbage to be jettisoned from the International Space Station.
The pallet is packed with nickel-hydrogen batteries, and it will stay in low Earth orbit for the next two to four years “before burning up harmlessly in the atmosphere,” according to a NASA statement. SpaceFlightNow reports that the pallet is the “most massive object ever jettisoned from the orbiting outpost.”
NASA spokesperson Leah Cheshier confirmed this as being the case.
“The External Pallet was the largest object—mass-wise—ever jettisoned from the International Space Station at 2.9 tons, more than twice the mass of the Early Ammonia Servicing System tank jettisoned by spacewalker Clay Anderson during the STS-118 mission in 2007,” wrote Cheshier in an email.
NASA’s ballistics officers “indicate no threat” of the pallet smashing into other space objects, but “this item, like all, will be tracked by U.S. Space Command,” she added.
It wasn’t the original plan for the pallet to be discarded like this. The failed launch of a Soyuz rocket in 2018, in which NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin were forced to make an emergency landing in the Kazakh steppe, caused a disruption to the spacewalking schedule, leading to the leftover pallet…
Read the rest here: