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Endeavour astronaut loses tools in space

by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Nov 18, 2008
An astronaut from the space shuttle Endeavour let slip her tool bag during a spacewalk Tuesday and watched helplessly as it floated off into the void of space, NASA said.

Astronaut Heide Stefanyshyn-Piper, who took part in the first of the mission's four planned spacewalks, had just started working on a jammed joint on a solar panel of the International Space Station (ISS) when the accident occurred.

NASA Television transmitted live images showing the tool bag, with all the tools inside, slipping away, after Stefanyshyn-Piper removed grease that had leaked out of a grease gun onto the bag's contents.

"Oh, great!" she exclaimed.

Mission Control at the Johnson Space Center in Houston however said the mission to work on the ISS's solar antenna rotation system would continue.

Stefanyshyn-Piper borrowed tools from her companion spacewalker Steve Bowen, who carried the same contents in his bag, and she resumed work on the rotation system ball bearings around 2033 GMT Tuesday.

Apart from the lost bag mishap, the spacewalk conducted its work as planned.

NASA tracks objects lost close to the ISS and the space shuttle because they can be harmful if they later collide with spaceships.

The spacewalk, the first of four planned for the mission, ended successfully at 0101 GMT Wednesday, NASA reported. The spacewalk lasted six hours, 52 minutes, just two minutes more than scheduled.

The five other Endeavour astronauts and the three ISS crew members on Monday used the station's robotic arm to remove the Leonardo Multi-Purpose Logistics Module from the shuttle's hold and attach it to the ISS.

They can now begin unloading the 14.5 tonnes of equipment the shuttle carried, most of it to be used to upgrade the interior of the orbiting outpost to double its crew capacity from three to six astronauts next year.

The additions will include two new sleeping quarters, exercise equipment, a second toilet, two new ovens to heat food, a refrigerator for food and drinks, a freezer and an oven for scientific experiments.

As one NASA expert described it, the upgrades will effectively turn the ISS into "a five-bedroom two-bath house with a kitchen, and support six residents on a continuing basis."

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Astronauts begin first spacewalk of Endeavour mission
Washington (AFP) Nov 18, 2008
Two astronauts from NASA's space shuttle Endeavour stepped outside the International Space Station Tuesday on the first of four planned spacewalks of the 15-day mission.

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