When we first got wind of a spatula circling the third rock from the sun every 90 minutes or so, the only thing that seemed stranger was the fact that military radar stations were tracking it throughout the world. Or maybe the fact that it was ever launched into space in the first place.
Although visions of astronauts competing in burger-flipping wars danced in our heads, the truth was a bit more mundane. The spatula was one of five used to make repairs during a spacewalk by astronaut Piers Sellers in 2006. During a voyage on the Discovery shuttle, he used the spatula to smooth protective liquid onto the shuttle's heat shield, but eventually lost the tool when it became unleashed and drifted into space. It was tracked across the globe to ensure it didn't pose a collision risk to existing objects in orbit -- including, at the time, the space shuttle [source: Malik].