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Maintenance crews are typically fairly attached to their various tools of the trade. It often takes them years to find just the right set of wrenches, screwdrivers, and hammers, so when they do find the perfect one, they are pretty careful about hanging on to them. But for astronaut Heide Stefanyshyn-Piper, gravity got the better of her and her tool bag.
Yesterday (11/18/08), while performing basic preventive maintenance on the gears of the Space Station’s Solar Alpha Rotary Joint, Stefanyshyn-Piper came across a grease gun leak inside her tool bag. As she cleaned up the mess, she turned away long enough for the entire bag to float away. Fortunately, Stefanyshyn-Piper was able to complete some of the task at hand with assistance from another astronaut, Steve Bowen.
NASA mission controllers expressed confidence that the lost tool bag would not be too much of a problem for the duration of the spacewalk.
Mission controllers were also tracking the lost bag, which they say is floating well clear of the station and drifting further away.
Here’s the raw footage of the incident, courtesy of NASA:
UPDATE: Reports say the lost toolbag was a valuable one; estimates put the price tag in the neighborhood of $100,000.