In an unusual moment of klutziness, spacewalking astronaut Heide Stefanyshyn-Piper let a tool kit slip from her grasp while she was working outside the International Space Station yesterday, and watched helplessly as it drifted away into deep space. “Oh, great,” said a dismayed Stefanyshyn-Piper, a veteran of two spacewalks in 2006, as she watched the bag float away [Florida Today].
The mishap occurred during the first of four spacewalks scheduled to be completed during the visit from the Endeavour space shuttle crew. The tool kit made its escape while Stefanyshyn-Piper and her colleague Steve Bowen were greasing a rotary joint on the station’s giant starboard solar array system. The joint has been unable to automatically point the solar wings toward the Sun for maximum energy production for over a year. Just as she was finishing up the job, the tool bag became untethered from a larger kit case and floated away along with a pair of grease guns, wipes and a putty knife. She reached out, but to no avail [BBC News].
The space shuttle Endeavour docked with the International Space Station yesterday, bringing almost seven tons of supplies and a crew that’s determined to give the cramped station a thorough renovation. After the hatch opened, the astronauts floated weightlessly through a tunnel and into the welcoming arms of their colleagues aboard the $100 billion station. “We understand that this house is in need of an extreme makeover and that you are the crew to do it,” station commander Mike Fincke said. “Welcome to space” [Reuters].
The Endeavour crew brought up a host of home improvements that will allow the space station to support three additional crew members: The cargo includes a second kitchen module, and extra bathroom, two sleeping cabins and exercise gear. Other new equipment will provide both creature comforts and the necessities of life: the crew will soon install a space cooler so station astronauts can have cold drinks for the first time in the eight years astronauts have lived aboard. Endeavour is also toting a new water recycling system designed to collect astronaut urine, sweat and other wastewater into drinkable water [SPACE.com].