j Toolbag just out of the reach of Heide Stefanyshn-Piper.  Credit: AP/NASA TV

Satellite Tracker Captures Lost Toolbag on Video

23 Nov , 2008

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The toolbag lost by spacewalkers this past week is being tracked by satellite observers and one veteran observer actually captured the toolbag whizzing by on video! Kevin Fetter from Brockville, Ontario video-recorded the backpack-sized toolbag last night, Nov. 22 from his backyard. “It was easily 8th magnitude or brighter as it passed by the 4th magnitude star eta Pisces,” Fetter said. Check out the video here. What these “amateurs” can’t do these days! If you’d like to try to see the toolbag yourself, here’s the link to Space Weather’s Satellite Tracker, so you can find out when it will be traveling over your backyard. This site provides satellite observations times for residents of the US and Canada. The expensive toolbag floated away from Endeavour astronaut Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper during the STS-126 mission’s first spacewalk on Nov. 18th. Whoever said the toolbag was lost never to be seen again!

And just why does that toolbag cost $100,000?

Lost tool bag floats away from the ISS.  Credit: NASA

Lost tool bag floats away from the ISS. Credit: NASA


“The cost included the EVA crew lock bag itself, four retractable tethers, two adjustable equipment tethers, a grease gun with a straight nozzle, two wire ties, a grease gun with a J-hook nozzle, an EVA wipe caddy, six EVA wipes (two wet, four dry), a scraper debris container, a SARJ scraper and a large trash bag,” NASA spokesman Mike Curie.

Most of that equipment and the bag are not just something you can pick up at your local hardware store. They are specialized hardware that had to be specifically created and certified for the harsh environment of space, able to work properly in a vacuum and withstand temperature swings from plus 200 degrees F (93 C) and minus 200 degrees F (-128 C).

And if you want to complain about astronauts losing things in space, then you go put on a pair of bulky, stiff gloves and a spacesuit (and a diaper) and try to do some very intricate, demanding work in zero gravity for about seven hours!

sources: SpaceWeather.com, Orlando Sentinel


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Jon Hanford
Member
Jon Hanford
November 23, 2008 12:12 PM

Thanks, Nancy, for a great article on the whereabouts of the famous “lost” toolkit from STS-126 and all the links to video and tracking sites. This story was posted just after I commented on the Edmonton fireball not being related to the toolkit, and this story bears this out. Any rough idea on when this object may reenter? Given its’ size & weight, it should create a brilliant fireball but probably burn up entirely before reaching the ground.

Salacious B. Crumb
Guest
Salacious B. Crumb
November 23, 2008 12:42 PM
Monitoring the item and where it is going is one thing, controlling what it might hit in orbit or where crash land is another. Again, with all these excuses, their variants, and seemingly biassed nationalism stated cannot hide the original complacency. Clearly, common sense tells us that the uncontrolled loss of anything in orbit is dangerous practice. Really all those occupying low Earth orbit and those organising the mission on the ground, have a important responsibility of both safety and prevention of potential present and future dangers if they are in orbit. The issue in the end isn’t really the astronaut in question, the fault lies in the adopted operational procedures adopted by NASA and the consortium of… Read more »
AstroNut
Guest
AstroNut
November 23, 2008 2:52 PM

“And if you want to complain”? If the incident is brushed a side and excused on account of a diaper, then you soon be tracking real astronauts.

Chris D
Guest
Chris D
November 23, 2008 3:45 PM

Good thing I wasn’t in that space suit, NASA would have had to bleep the living bleep out of my radio comms…. smile

Unfortunate, but it just goes to show astronauts are humans.

Dominion
Member
November 23, 2008 3:46 PM

the $100,000 price tag included four tethers that apparently were still in the bag instead of being attached to it and something else. No one is complaining about the work done in space with bulky gloves and suits on, but maybe some extra steps taken before the gloves went on could have prevented this.

Salacious B. Crumb
Guest
Salacious B. Crumb
November 24, 2008 1:45 AM
Silver Thread said “So much whining about the tool bag getting loose. Worse is bound to happen, we learn from mistakes and move ahead, now for sake of not being total douche bags about it, stop trolling and move on.” Again you miss the point. The problem isn’t really loosing the the tool bag. It is basically the need for denial and cover-up by the general media – including the NASA publicity department. If we are supposed to “learn from mistakes and move ahead”, well the question is why haven’t we do so? Really. Let’s talk about facts…. According to studies done in 1999, there is estimated to 1.8 million kilograms of space junk in orbit. With roughly… Read more »
Ron
Guest
Ron
November 23, 2008 7:08 PM

Where can I take NASA up on their offer? Give me a space suit so I can do this the right way.

Silver Thread
Member
Silver Thread
November 23, 2008 8:28 PM

So much whining about the tool bag getting loose. Worse is bound to happen, we learn from mistakes and move ahead, now for sake of not being total douche bags about it, stop trolling and move on.

Lab Lemming
Guest
November 24, 2008 1:16 AM

I wonder if they can calculate its track well enough to pick it up on the way down…

law mc
Guest
law mc
November 24, 2008 2:25 AM

wow, so people make mistakes, yes it happens… why you focussing so hard on the toolkit? i understand you have an issue with space junk but using the toolkit as a trojan horse to get that issue more attention is just silly really, and looks more like you are simply trying to bash the US space program and its astronauts…
im a euro btw, so no nationalism here…

Salacious B. Crumb
Guest
Salacious B. Crumb
November 24, 2008 4:16 AM
law mc, True, we all make mistakes, but are not supposed to learn from them and avoid them in the future? Also the significant issue here of the “toolkit” is the overall media response that is really avoiding the facts and direct responsibility – basically trivialising the consequences of ones actions. One of these days a serious catastrophic accident will happen, and we will get the usual incriminations, blame-shifting and “we should do more.” We have already seen the consequences of the two Shuttle disasters – with the loss of all on board – caused by what was seemingly only minor impacts on the spacecraft’s fragile surface. The result was inspections of all the Shuttle’s surfaces before re-entry… Read more »
Salacious B. Crumb
Guest
Salacious B. Crumb
November 24, 2008 5:07 AM
law mc You said “im a euro btw, so no nationalism here…”, which I assume was in my direct response in saying ; “…and seemingly biassed nationalism.” To clarify. I really meant to say here is that It is hard to criticise ones own country against negative events or consequences – biassing just on your nationalistic viewpoint. This view just of the U.S., though but applies to all nations. Conceded, Americans collectively are a particularly prideful people, and while sometimes acting somewhat “over the top”, does not mean they should be universally condoned for what they have so far achieved or haven’t achieved in space or elsewhere. Far from it. Nationalism does have its really advantages – but… Read more »
Polaris93
Member
November 24, 2008 12:19 PM

Salacious B Crumb — There’s this phenomenon called “entropy.” *No* process is perfect; there are bound to be losses of mass/energy in some form during the course of any process. While we must ever strive to minimize losses, I’d say the world’s space programs have done far better in that respect than most Earth-bound activities. Astronauts and others in the space industry work constantly to minimize accidents like the loss of the toobag. Okay, it happened. Now let’s get over it and do what can be done.

huma
Guest
huma
November 24, 2008 5:50 AM

loved your comments, crumb. thank you.

Maxwell
Member
Maxwell
November 24, 2008 5:52 AM

People mess up, stuff gets lost, and what are we supposed to do?
Send someone to jail every time they drop a hammer?

We have to build thing in space, and that means we have to repair things. That means we’ll be dropping things and not every job will got to plan.

Learn what you can and move on. Self flagellation wont achieve anything.

Dominion
Member
November 24, 2008 5:57 AM
Yes, we are only human and humans make mistakes from time to time. But we expect more from our trained professionals. Would you just let it go if your doctor gave you the wrong medication or performed the wrong surgery? What if your auto mechanic put volkswagen parts into your ford? Suppose the fire truck showed up to your burning home without hoses? I work in a factory making air conditioners. It is a relatively low skilled, low wage kind of job. If I lost a tool kit, especially one with that kind of price tag, I would be fired. But maybe that would be my boss’s mistake. He’s only human after all.
Salacious B. Crumb
Guest
Salacious B. Crumb
November 24, 2008 6:18 AM
When I was writing the responses above, I was unaware of a heartfelt developing story in the Australian media. Although seemingly unrelated to this incident, it brought home to me the direct of avoiding consequences of using prevention against ones actions. It might be seemingly contrite, but it involves the sad death of a 4 year old little girl from a dam in Queensland, Australia. Here a dam bladder, a device to control water flow, burst, and 6000 megalitres of water was released, flowing down stream taking an innocent group at Blackwater who were engaging in a harmless picnic into a catastrophic flood. Paradoxically, the dam bladder was put in place to prevent flooding, caused by large floods… Read more »
Salacious B. Crumb
Guest
Salacious B. Crumb
November 24, 2008 6:28 AM

Maxwell
All I can say is ; Just do you best and plan for every possible contingency.
Some things are avoidable, but the genius solves the problems before it actually happens.

Salacious B. Crumb
Guest
Salacious B. Crumb
November 24, 2008 6:46 AM

For the cynics. I still wept for the loss of this child..

Salacious B. Crumb
Guest
Salacious B. Crumb
November 24, 2008 8:07 AM

According to Mexico’s President, Felipe Calderon,

“The next US administration must assume leadership in a very firm manner – not just for Americans but for the whole world.”

Let’s hope so…

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