Skip to comments.Astronauts Lose Bolt During Spacewalk
Posted on 09/12/2006 9:18:38 AM PDT by RedCell
Astronauts Lose Bolt During Spacewalk Sep 12 11:55 AM US/Eastern
By MIKE SCHNEIDER Associated Press Writer
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.
Spacewalking astronauts worried they have may have gummed up a successful job connecting an addition to the international space station Tuesday when a bolt, spring and washer floated free.
Astronaut Joe Tanner was working with the bolt when it sprang loose, floated over the head of Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper and skittered across the 17 1/2-ton box-like truss that they were hooking up.
While the washer went out into space safely, Tanner worried the bolt and spring could get into the truss's wiring and tubing and causing problems.
"Not a good thing," Tanner said. "Let's hope it doesn't end up somewhere in the mechanism.
"I don't see it anywhere."
NASA managers were examining whether the lost bolt would be a problem. Space debris can be dangerous if it punctures space station walls or spacesuits and can jam crucial mechanisms. However, spacewalkers have a long history of losing material in space. In July, Discovery spacewalkers lost a 14-inch-long spatula that floated away.
The free-flying bolt marred an otherwise successful and speedy spacewalk Tuesday morning.
Tanner and Piper zipped through a jam-packed list of arduous but mundane construction tasks, putting NASA ahead of schedule in connecting the addition. With extra time, Mission Control assigned them half a dozen extra jobs of bolt removing and cover unlatching that would have been part of a Thursday spacewalk.
That's when the bolt got lost.
Atlantis astronauts Dan Burbank and Steve MacLean will head into space on Thursday.
The spacewalk was a first for rookie astronaut Piper, who joined an elite club of female spacewalkers.
Only six other women have participated in 159 U.S. spacewalks, and only one has gone on any of the 118 Russian spacewalks. A major reason for the lack of female spacewalkers is the spacesuit, which isn't designed for small sizes, said Piper, who is 5-foot-10. "If you fit in a suit then the easier it is to work," she said.
Before they started, astronauts MacLean and Jeff Williams, from inside the space lab, used the robotic arm to install the 45-foot addition on the left side of the space station's truss system. Two solar arrays will be unfurled from the truss on Thursday.
The spacewalk started a short time later at 5:17 a.m. EDT. Tanner was first to enter the void of space tethered to the space station, followed by Piper.
"Welcome to the world of EVAs," Tanner told Piper, using the NASA term for spacewalks _ extra vehicular activities.
"Aaah. Wonderful," Piper responded.
Tanner and Piper then started connecting wiring and cables to the $372 million truss segment that was moved Monday from space shuttle Atlantis' cargo bay to the space station's robotic arm. Wearing bulky suits and gloves, the spacewalking electricians also installed and disconnected bolts, connected tubes and activated latches _ tasks that had to be performed quickly so the electronic components do not get cold.
The team worked briskly, at one point putting themselves so far ahead of the schedule that Mission Control reminded them to take a break.
"The team is working hard to keep up with you guys," Mission Control said.
No, some parts are magnetic, including possibly the washer. But you can't count on it, so you do other things. "Other things" that sometimes don't work, either...
Unless, like most things when dropped, it rolled to the exact middle under the thing being worked on.
Or things dropped in the kitchen that roll under the fridge and/or stove.
Naw...NASA probably went exotic on their tools and made them out of aluminum, titanium or some other material that didn't make as much sense as something like steel.....
Unless Ralphie was holding the hubcap, of course.
and ...well my epithets were what my Gramma used to call "reciting the Rosary backward!"
Wonder if NASA had the mute button guarded!
Lost a bolt?
When I'm fixin' something I always end up with several extra ones.
They must not be good mechanics....;-)
Here's a thought: Where does a bolt go when you drop it in outer space?
I dropped a nut once...
Finishing "Murphy's" sentence . .. . and at the worst possble time.
Been there, done that.
What's interesting is that those little bolts and washers are actually travelling, what, 26,000 MPH?
Amazing, isn't it.
Back In collage I was at the dental school getting some (cheep work done. The dentist dropped a gold crown down my throat. I was able to hack it up but he said "well it is gold and we would have had to recover it at the other end".
he would have had to remelt it before it went into my mouth
It will come back in an hour and a half. But, it will drift a little because of atmospheric drag and sunlight pressure so it won't come back exactly to where it was set adrift. It could hit the ISS when it comes back.
Are you kidding, Mr. Whale? The bolt is probably co-orbiting with ISS, for the most part. It's not like it stopped dead in space, waiting for the station to take a lap.
It will eventually drop out of orbit.
The spring will return to the node at the same time the station returns to the node, the node of interescting orbits. The two orbits will have close to the same period and the two objects will meet again. A couple miles an hour will not make the orbits enough different.
Probably more like 17,500 mph.
Does that mean it could act as a harmful high velocity projectile and penetrate the ISS?
That's not good.
It will come back at the same speed it left. If it left at 2 mph, it will return at 2 mph. Actually it could come back in 45 minutes, it taking 1-1/2 hours for a complete orbit of the ISS.
What give you the indication that the stray hardware has left the vicinity in any substantial way?
It's out of reach and they aren't going to chase after it. It will return, but it might not return within arm's reach and they sure aren't going to sit out there and wait for it to return.
From what I remember from a show on ISS construction, I think copper was the choice for tools,
since it could withstand the cold and maintain many of the properties. That is, not become overly
brittle while still being hard.
I have no idea as to fasteners, pipes, trusses, etc.
Ah, a lesson learned from the Apollo 12 mission.
I think we're talking past each other here. An hour and a half from now, the bolt will still be in the vicinity of the ISS, but may semi-stabilize over time into the periodic relationship you've described, until drag deorbits it. Yes?
Station tools are primarily aluminum and stanless steel. Copper/brass and some plastics also are used, depending on operational needs for mechanisms.
I don't get it. The ISS takes 90 minutes for an orbit. Stopping a bolt dead in its tracks would mean a difference of 17,500mph between the bolt and the ISS which would work out to the 90min flight. OTOH, if both continued - the ISS at 17,500mph and the bolt at 17,498mph, wouldn't it take a year and a half for both to return to the same place of longitude?
The four pieces, the bolt, the washer, the spring, and the ISS were in four different orbits instantly. The four orbits intersect at two points 45 minutes apart. The periods of the four orbits are similar but not exactly the same, so the four objects will come close to each other the first orbit and less close with each subsequent orbit.
How do you make flap jacks if they don't come down when you flip them?
The light bulb turns on this side of the conversation. I understand now, thanks!
The bolt didn't stop. It has a speed of 17,502 mph for half its orbit and 17,498 the other half. Both the ISS and the bolt will return to the same node at the same time.
In related news, a mysterious light was seen streaking across the sky over Washington state.
I meant meant to say "not always" sticky, and I don't remember why. I'll have to research that.
My guess is that many/most sticky materials will outgas/dry quickly in vacuum. Aside from Kapton tape -- that stuff stays sticky no matter what...