Obviously he was holding it wrong.
A record-breaking spacewalk conducted over the weekend ended with an antenna pointed in the wrong direction on the International Space Station (ISS). The walk by Roscosmos' Alexander Misurkin (commander of Expedition 54) and flight engineer Anton Shkaplerov was scheduled to last 6.5 hours, but blew out to a Russian record of …
the cosmonauts gave it a shove in the direction of Earth, in the expectation it will burn up in the planet's atmosphere
Actually they throw if antispinwards of the ISS, which is sane:
"East (spinward) takes you out, out takes you west, west (antispinward) takes you in, in takes you east, port and starboard bring you back."
I don't know whether that little push was enough to make the package drop sufficiently low. Maybe one should have crossbow catapults.
I was curious, so I looked up the equations. First: a handy graph of ISS altitude with time. The 400km altitude for ISS is only valid after an orbit raising burn. Just before each burn, the altitude can be 330km. An object needs to be in a circular orbit with an altitude of 160km to go round the Earth once. A tennis serve is sufficient to go from 400km circular to 400-160km elliptical. A fast bowler has enough delta-v to put a cricket ball into a 330-160km orbit from 330km circular. Just letting something float away so it misses the next orbit raising burn means it burn up in about a year.
Ignoring air resistance, a gentle throw antispinward will drop perigee by 50km and mean an object does one less orbit than the ISS in about a month. That should be plenty of time for air resistance to drop apogee well below the ISS.
Looking at the video and
calculating guessing wildly, that hunk of electronics looked to probably mass something around 1-5kg, and I'm guessing they gave it 1m/s of dV.
It did look like the cosmonaut was waiting until a certain time to 'launch' it, so I suspect they waited until apogee and sent it retrograde in order to drop it's perigee as much as possible.
The tiny delta-v added would not significantly alter its orbit, and it will be returning to the immediate area after about 90 minutes. That's how it works. Eventually its orbital characteristics will diverge enough to send it 'away,' but it will still be in a nice stable orbit for quite a while.
I thought it was one of the big no nos of spacewalks was to intentionally lose stuff, yes it will deorbit relatively fast, but given a bit of bad luck it is supposedly possible to have a nasty encounter with the gently floating away object at several kilometers per second a month or so later (can't remember the particulars for that though so take it with about .75 kg of salt).
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