© iStock / J.P. Gomez
SpaceX astronaut Daniel Yu and his crew had just completed a scheduled resupply mission on Wednesday and were putting on their safety harnesses in preparation for their return to Earth when he saw a little card stuck in the window of his Dragon capsule.
A pilot who docked his space vehicle with the International Space Station (ISS) for a few hours has returned to find a business card on the window bearing the name of a Luxembourg garage.
"I said, 'Oh crap, space junk,'" he said. "I knew we'd have to remove it, otherwise it might burn up during our reentry."
Yu contacted the ISS crew, and cosmonaut Sergey Laminatov put on an Orlan space suit, exited through an airlock, removed the item, and eventually passed it along to the SpaceX crew.
"It was an ad for some guy who buys used vehicles," Yu said. "We relayed the information to ground control, and they informed us that the telephone number belongs to a garage in Luxembourg."
A representative for the garage confirmed that the card was left by them.
"Over the years, we've carried out the most successful advertising campaign in history, making sure that anyone who drives a car gets one of our cards at least once a week," he said. "Even if 999 out of a thousand times the card ends up thrown on the ground, there's always one person who says, 'Actually, I did want to sell my car this afternoon.'"
"So we decided to expand our efforts," he said. "And by the way, if you have a rocket, capsule, or even a rover that you want to sell, please call us."
"We pay cash, and we'll take your space vehicle out of circulation immediately and handle all the paperwork with national or international space organizations."
A spokesperson for the U.S. space agency NASA, which maintains a highly detailed satellite log of all objects in Earth's orbit, says this is not the first time that a card for that particular garage has been found in space.
"There are millions of them, at this very moment, circling around our planet at great speeds," she said. "They are strong and laminated in high-quality plastic. In the vacuum of space, they will last forever."
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