Woops. Houston, we have a problem.

1. Nov 19, 2008

Topher925

Saw this on on Yahoo this morning; http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081119/ap_on_sc/space_shuttle [Broken]

Are these people for real? How do you just let a big expensive bag of tools just float away. Have NASA engineers never heard of the amazing invention called the rope? This isn't the first time its happened either. I don't understand how this administration can put a person on the moon yet still make so many stupid mistakes.

Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2017
2. Nov 19, 2008

Office_Shredder

Staff Emeritus
Did you even bother reading the article?

That's like, the third paragraph. And I'm not sure a grease gun and a putty knife can be described as "expensive".

3. Nov 19, 2008

mgb_phys

It is when it's a linear complaint sealing matrix distribution facilitation system

4. Nov 19, 2008

turbo

A cheap tool becomes pretty valuable once you have lofted it into orbit.

5. Nov 19, 2008

Staff Emeritus
I know the astronaut in question quite well - I went to school with her - and can tell you that there is nobody I would trust more to handle a delicate job in difficult circumstances. Spaceflight is still not routine. I doubt very much you would have done any better.

6. Nov 19, 2008

Ivan Seeking

Staff Emeritus
I tend to agree that this is ridiculous. Yes, mistakes happen, but this one doesn't require the best minds in NASA to be avoided. I don't know if the astronaut is to blame, but it is certainly an embarrasing and pedestrian level failure of the system.

7. Nov 19, 2008

Topher925

Yes I did. The fact that a tool bag can even some how become unteathered shows a serious flaw in the design. And it may have just been a tool resembling a butter knife but it was required to complete the repairs. Which in the end means more money and/or more man hours will be required to make that repair.

Thats nice. But I wasn't questioning the astronaut, but the idea of having a way to keep a tool bag where its suppose to be. Thanks for making it personal though.

BTW, I can disassemble a pencil strut on a dodge neon, upside down, with my eyes closed. How do you know I couldn't do any better?

8. Nov 20, 2008

Staff Emeritus
One thing that a career in experimental physics has taught me is that when you have a one-of-a-kind task, sometimes it doesn't work the way you think it will. Even if you've thought about it, practiced it, had the whole thing reviewed: sometimes you get surprised. Space exploration is still exploration - filled with these one-off tasks that have not yet become routine.

And I know you can't do it any better, because nobody could do it better.

9. Nov 20, 2008

redargon

I want you on our next mission to space. I'm sure the dodge neon they have up there will definitely need professional attention. But, we'll let you do it with your eyes open, just to make sure it all goes to plan

If you make a tool bag that can't be untethered, then you have to have a specific space suit for every job you do, or a space suit that has all the tool bags permanently attached to it. Stuff fails, that's engineering for you. Whether it's human error or design failure, it's unavoidable after so many missions that nothing goes wrong.

10. Nov 20, 2008

True. But you don't have 600 doctors working with a single patient running up a $3.4 billion dollar medical bill. If you did, I bet there would be little or no mistakes. 19. Nov 20, 2008 BobG Wow. The space spider's web has to be added to that video with the crack spider. Too bad the lack of gravity makes such a mess of spiders' web making abilities. There goes one possible solution to dropping the tool bag. 20. Nov 20, 2008 BobG Anyone who thinks that human error can be eliminated is going to eventually create a disaster. The sensible solution is to figure out what to do after human error is committed (i.e. - make sure you have spare tools, etc.) Even using that strategy, there's going to be a few tasks where recovery from an error is going to be impossible. These should be few, they're the "critical" tasks, and these should be the few tasks that a person knows so well that the odds of making an error become miniscule. One of the reasons space missions are a high risk enterprise is that you're never going to simulate a space mission perfectly while on Earth. The only place to get the truly realistic conditions that provide the practice necessary to reduce the chances of error is on the mission itself. Last edited: Nov 20, 2008 21. Nov 22, 2008 turbo According to Lester Holt tonight, the cost of the lost tool-kit was$100,000. Add in the cost of lofting all that stuff into space, if you care about the details.

22. Nov 23, 2008