Select your localized edition:

Close ×

More Ways to Connect

Discover one of our 28 local entrepreneurial communities »

Be the first to know as we launch in new countries and markets around the globe.

Interested in bringing MIT Technology Review to your local market?

MIT Technology ReviewMIT Technology Review - logo

 

Unsupported browser: Your browser does not meet modern web standards. See how it scores »

Would you lose your grip on a briefcase containing $100,000?

In the first of four planned spacewalks on Tuesday, a NASA astronaut made a costly mistake: not properly tethering her tool kit. Heidemaire Stefanyshyn-Piper, the first woman to lead a spacewalk, was cleaning a leaking grease gun used to fix a jammed solar array on the International Space Station (ISS) when she noticed her brief-cased sized tool tote drifting off. The astronauts could do nothing but grimly watch the bag, worth an estimated $100,000, slowly float out of reach. The tool kit contained two grease guns, a putty knife and cloth mitts. The mistake leaves Stefanyshyn-Piper and astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Stephen Bowen with only a single pair of grease guns for the remaining spacewalks. This could mean that the astronauts are not able to perform all the necessary repairs to the ISS, delaying critical fixes and even future mission plans.

Below is a video of the tool kit drifting off into space with narration from mission control in Houston.

Although this is not the first time equipment has been lost in space, it is the largest item to make the list of space junk. Spatulas, foot holds, washers, bolts, and recently a spider have all gone missing in space. Space program managers are claiming, however, that the spider is just temporarily AWOL inside the ISS. The other items though must be carefully tracked so that they do not cause damage to the shuttle or other spacecraft in orbit. Even the smallest peice of debris could cause catastrophic damage if a collision were to occur.

Yesterday, the astronauts conducted a successful second spacewalk. You can watch the mission live on NASA TV.

Video courtesy of NASA

2 comments. Share your thoughts »

Tagged: Communications, NASA, space, hardware, ISS, shuttle

Reprints and Permissions | Send feedback to the editor

From the Archives

Close

Introducing MIT Technology Review Insider.

Already a Magazine subscriber?

You're automatically an Insider. It's easy to activate or upgrade your account.

Activate Your Account

Become an Insider

It's the new way to subscribe. Get even more of the tech news, research, and discoveries you crave.

Sign Up

Learn More

Find out why MIT Technology Review Insider is for you and explore your options.

Show Me
×

A Place of Inspiration

Understand the technologies that are changing business and driving the new global economy.

September 23-25, 2014
Register »