November 18, 2008

Tool bag, spider lost in space

A tool bag floated away in space as U.S. astronaut Heide Stefanyshyn-Piper worked outside the International Space Station Tuesday.

Stefanyshyn-Piper, who is working from the space shuttle Endeavour, had a grease gun inside her tool bag leak, and while she was trying to clean it up, the whole bag floated away, CNN reported.

Stefanyshyn-Piper was outside the space station on a scheduled six-hour spacewalk with fellow mission specialist Steve Brown.

The Endeavour began its mission Thursday when it lifted off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Also Tuesday, one of two orb weaver spiders was missing aboard the space station, Fox News reported.

We don't believe that it's escaped the overall payload enclosure, said Kirk Shireman, NASA's deputy station program manager. I'm sure we'll find him spinning a web sometime here in the next few days.

The web spun so far lacked the usual symmetry expected.

The web was more or less three-dimensional and it looked like it was all over the inside of the spider hab, said NASA astronaut Sandra Magnus, the space station's science officer. We took some pictures of it, so hopefully they will turn out.

Inside the space station, mission specialist Don Pettit and Magnus will operate the station's robotic arm for several tasks. Among other things, the ISS is being expanded to accommodate more visitors.

Four spacewalks are scheduled, NASA said.