Houston, We Have a Problem: Astronaut’s Camera Floats Away Into Space

If you’ve gone to see the blockbuster hit Gravity in theaters, you’ll recall several moments when Sandra Bullock’s character nearly lost something into the abyss of space — be it a drill or a screw, everything needs to be strapped down because the slightest movement will send it careening into the unknown.

Well, that was Hollywood, but the real deal did actually happened to astronaut Sunita Williams back in 2006 when her camera just up and floated away from her during a 7-hour space walk.

The video above shows what was happening, with the camera floating away around 30 seconds in. The best part of the video, however, is the dialogue that accompanies the mishap. As the camera slips away, you can hear Houston pointing it out, saying “I hope it’s tethered” and then a strained “okay… we see that” after it becomes obvious it was not.

This isn’t the clip that first caught our attention, however. Another clip, uploaded in 2011, claims to show footage from what should be the selfsame camera after it became detached from Williams’ suit:

We’re not entirely sure this one is legit since the footage that is supposed to overlap seems wrong and even the date of the spacewalk in the description is off. Plus, the Earth looks rather small when the camera spins around to look at the space station, but then again we have very little experience with cameras floating away in space, so feel free to correct us.

If it is legitimate, then it makes a heck of an addition to the popular footage at the top — a bit of a terrifying addition if we’re being honest. Want to know what it’s like to float helplessly into space? Now you do.

So check out both videos, say a little prayer for the lost camera (which has probably burned up in the atmosphere by now) and think on the benefits of gravity. Sure, it’s gravity that slams your several-thousand-dollar lens into the ground when you drop it… but at least you have the option to set it down safely without worrying about it going anywhere.

  • Werner

    Agree, there is no good reason why it should record and save sound in space. But anyhow I think this is made up. Not only because of the relations between earth and ISS, but also because of the stars. Notice that in the original footage no stars at all can be seen, but many blurred in the other one.

  • Erik Lauri Kulo

    The second one is so painfully obviously fake.

  • Renato Murakami

    Ok, we see that… “that’s coming off your paycheck”. xD Oh man

  • chinajim

    I believe the first camera lost in space was Michael Collins’ Hasselblad during a space walk on Gemini 10 in 1966.

  • ɯɐן ǝɔuɐɹɹǝʇ

    Looks like an SLR type camera, and I’m pretty sure the first video capable Nikon was the D90 which came out in 2008. So I’m sure that second video is fake, or a simulation of the events that happened.

  • Panchoskywalker

    I hope it was a hasselblad lunar.

  • Jordan Butters

    As if anyone really thinks that second video is real? I’m pretty sure the craft in that video is clipart.

  • TomcatNASCAR

    I’m disappointed in PetPixel for even questioning the validity of the second video. It is so obviously fake. C’mon, man!

  • Prof. Carpenter

    Second movie looks completely faked.

    In one of my classes I talked about the Hasselblads used on the moon. One student asked “Wow! They must be really valuable cameras now!” I told them they were worth at lest several billion dollars … because that’s how much it would cost to go to the moon to retrieve them!

    BTW, a little investigation shows NASA has been using primarily Nikon dSLRs for their missions, both inside and outside the ISS.

  • Brian Todd

    Besides the fact that the camera would have to be traveling far faster in the second video than the speed in which the camera left her hand in the first video in order for the Earth to shrink in size that quickly, I don’t even see the Space Shuttle in the second one…..

  • Jim Ellis

    hmm – stars are on a Environment Cube – and the ISS is a mask…

  • Spot

    Check at 6:29..

  • Brian Utterback

    Second video obviously fake. First, there would probably be no stars, but we might grant that if it had an auto exposure it might catch the stars. But no way would you see stars at the same time that the Sun is in the frame. And worse still, during the first rotation showing the station, it is visibly receding, but just as the station is rotating out of frame, the station is now rapidly approaching. I am pretty sure this is a flat photograph.

  • Au

    i cannot begin to explain all the many reasons why that second video is fake fake fake fake fake. sadly, pathetically desperately unconvincing. oh, and if the boner who made it knew anything about the astronaut’s equipment, they would feel pretty silly trying to talk anybody into it being real.

  • Au

    ok kiddies listen up for some science-y facts… the lost camera was a Nikon Dx3…. ahem:
    1) The D3x does not have video capture capability
    2) The D3x writes to CF cards which do not have WiFi capability
    3) The D3x does not have a wireless/WiFi connectivity
    and speaking as a vfx artist i can assure you, nobody in a million miles of a vfx studio would be convinced it’s real regardless of the camera’s lack of recording and transmitting the data such as the video purports it to have done.
    this is what the kids today call an EPIC FAIL.

  • Oskarkar

    Regarding Sunita Williams camera:

    I hope I will live the day when someone will find the camera and will post the pictures on Facebook in search of the oriiginal owner.

  • vegrav amygrav

    Christopher explained I am blown away that people
    able to profit $6630 in a few weeks on the computer. read what he said………..


  • Matias Gonua

    LOL, I hope it was a Petapixel joke