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Astronauts Lost Tools in Space, Forced to Improvise

Hemos posted more than 8 years ago | from the lost-in-time-lost-in-space...and-meaning dept.

82

Ant writes "Neatorama and Popular Science share a CNN story about Russian astronauts repairing the International Space Station (ISS) with improvised tools because they lost the real ones. How? 'It's a lot like your house,' said Paul Boehm, lead spacewalk officer. 'You set your car keys down somewhere and hopefully you find them again later when you try to remember it.' Uh, yeah, but we're idiots -- you're astronauts. Nonetheless, nice to see the Do It Yourself (DIY) spirit at work in space."

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Pffft (2, Funny)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 8 years ago | (#15471212)

I lose my tools all the time -- "where did that damn socket set go?" I've been forced to use all sorts of things - pliers, my wife's spatula set (don't tell her), and my son's toy dinosaur. Betcha none of those astronauts would have thought of THAT.

Clearly I am much more intelluhgent then those NASA dudes. And don't even get me started on that Bo Villa guy. If I had 527 different types of wood vices like him, I could HAND CARVE my own six bedroom Colonial..

Kokgobble my long dick, Haime (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15471291)

You, sir, are a kokgobbler.

This is evident in your stupid post which you described inane details of your life, which you foolishly assumed anybody cared about.

Go back to doing what you do best.

Namely: Gobble! Gobble! Gobble!

Re:Kokgobble my long dick, Haime (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15471393)

You have me confused with your mother.

Bob Villa? (1)

oneiros27 (46144) | more than 8 years ago | (#15471588)

Go back and watch any of the early episodes of This Old House -- it's clearly apparent that Bob Villa isn't paying attention to the 'experts' that are giving him instructions. The person doing all of the work is Norm Abrahms (who has his own show, The New Yankee Workshop).

And as for tools -- if I had an outbuilding larger than my current house, with a 1/4 mil in power tools (c'mon -- a laser guided chop saw? And he's had it for years -- they only came down to the general consumer market in the last couple of years), I'm guessing I'd do a little bit better on the woodworking projects I do.

Re:Bob Villa? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15471916)

And as for tools... I'm guessing I'd do a little bit better on the woodworking projects I do.


Over the 12 years he's lived in his house, my father has built his garage, deck, shed, and finished off his basement. He's built or repaired a good chunk of the furniture in his house. He designed and built from scratch the kitchen table and set of chairs in my apartment.

He has no formal training in woodworking (though he did work as a carpenter framing houses one summer while putting himself through college) and his is tool set is only modestly larger than that of the average joe.

His favorite quote? "It is a poor workman who blames his limitations on his tools."

Re:Bob Villa? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15472145)

Of course, sometimes it *is* a bad tool that causes problems. My wife and I were in the middle of redecorating our bathroom. She did the painting, I was in charge of the molding. I bought the molding and proceded to measure and cut. Everything was the right length, but none of the mitered corners met like they should. After careful examination, it turned out that my mitre box had a 42 degree notch instead of a 45 degree notch. Subtle enough that I hadn't noticed it, but wrong enough that $50 of molding was wasted.

I now have a new, better, adjustable mitre box.

Re:Bob Villa? (1)

karnal (22275) | more than 8 years ago | (#15473018)

His favorite quote? "It is a poor workman who blames his limitations on his tools."

That is a very good quote. However, it doesn't beat the "right tool for the job" quote.

Recently, tried my hand at putting in tile. Went in rather good for my first shot at not having the right tools whatsoever. One thing I did learn is that cutting tile is a pain in the butt if you don't have a tile saw.... and using the "hacksaw blade replacement" tool doesn't work nearly as well as you might think....

So in that situation, I did blame my limitation on my tool, because it wasn't truly right for the job.

Re:Bob Villa? (1)

kimgkimg (957949) | more than 8 years ago | (#15476398)

Ooh, I'm wincing at that hacksaw comment. What's a DIY project without the opportunity to buy more tools? We recently tiled up our bathrooms, so we shelled out a "whopping" $70 for a no-name-brand tilesaw over at Harbor Freight. Worked great and now my brother's going to use it for his kitchen. Worth every penny.

Re:Bob Villa? Auto Mechanics Anyone? (1)

N3Bruce (154308) | more than 8 years ago | (#15491356)

The same principle applies to auto mechanics. I am one of the few and proud that still seems to take pride in being able to work on their own ride, partly for financial reasons, partly for the challenge of it, and partly to make sure it is done right. It seems like every project lately means a trip to buy at least one special tool or another. An angle grinder for my rusty bumper, a MAPP torch to build a luggage rack for my Magna, a heavy-duty floor jack to lift the frame of my old '93 F-150 to replace the rusty spring brackets, and a special socket I needed to replace the rotors on my "new" '94 4WD F-150, to name a few.

In every case the cost of the tools was still a fraction of the cost of labor and parts markup I would have paid to a mechanic, and the new tools encourage me to tackle more challenging repairs. Often these tools have uses I couldn't have dreamed of when I brought them.

Re:Bob Villa? (1, Offtopic)

jdray (645332) | more than 8 years ago | (#15472213)

It was Norm's laser-guided miter saw that made me quit watching his show about ten years ago. I have one of my own now (actually an armature attachment "add on peripheral"), but at the time couldn't even dream of owning one. I'm sure he's got a computer-driven CNC machine by now.

I figure that when his tools are orders of magnitude more complex than anything I can buy at the time, I can't learn anything from him. Of course, the same thing goes the other way with that guy that does everything (including lathe work) on hand (or foot) powered tools.

Re:Bob Villa? (1)

pentalive (449155) | more than 8 years ago | (#15472803)

Underwood or Underhill or somthing like that. A real 1800's sorta guy.
Norm Abrams should open "wood clubs" all around, outfited with all the best
tools that members can use.

Re:Bob Villa? (1)

cr0sh (43134) | more than 8 years ago | (#15475012)

I'm sure he's got a computer-driven CNC machine by now.

I understand your point, but CNC machines are actually fairly cheap, considering what can be done with them. A homebrew machine can be built (provided you already have at least a drill press and a table saw - necessary for the precision cuts) for around $500-1000 (numerous details are available on the internet - many people have built them - in the past, Nuts and Volts magazine had a series of articles detailing homebrew CNC). A kit machine (all the machining done for you - you still need to supply the computer) will run between $1000 - 2000 (maybe a little less, depending on the size of the machine). Even a large scale 4' x 8' CNC router is under $20,000.

Don't get me wrong, I don't expect everyone to run out and buy that last machine. If you need it, though, spending $1000-2000 on a kit machine is not outlandish (you can buy many woodworking tools in that range). Or, if you already have a wood shop (with a drill press and table saw or similar) and the skills to use the tools, then building a homebrew CNC machine is not very expensive, and you might learn a lot, too. If you manage to build the whole thing and get it working well, you will have learned a bunch about machining, electronics, computer interfacing, and robotics - all in one fell swoop. Most of these homebrew machines can work on any kind of old PC that has a parallel port. Dig that old 386 out (you do have one, don't you?), hook the printer port up to some servos and limit switches, load up some GPL'd software (or buy some), and start milling!

To be truthful, the work and expense isn't in the machine or building it - the real work is in learning to use it. Learning to use a CNC machine (and needing one, actually) is only useful if you absolutely need to manufacture multiple identical parts, and they need accuracy in their production (most home machines, including well-built hombrew devices, have an error of +/- .001 inches). CNC is typically not needed for single, one-off jobs, with the exception of tasks which are similar to printing: vinyl sign cutting and the like. So if you have a need for such a task, you need to be willing to learn how to use the software (CAD software for the design, and the translation software which converts the DXF files into g-code for the CNC machine, amongst other software)...

"New Yankee Workshop" Theme Song (1)

some guy I know (229718) | more than 8 years ago | (#15486985)

Sung to the tune of "The New Yankee Workshop":

In "The New Yankee Workshop" with
Norm Abram, he can show you how
To make all sorts of neat things with
Tools that cost about ten thou.

Re:Bob Villa? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15472873)

Bob Villa is an absolute moron; it's just a wonder if he has all his fingers. I've seen him even use tools wrong in Sears commercials. You'd think someone would have said "oops, take 497". Bob Villa was just the Pointy Haired Boss of This Old House and Norm the Dilbert.

A 1/4 mil of better tools can make a artisan more efficient and an average person better but in any regard, Norm was great when most the time he was still pushing a circ saw.

back in the DIY (1)

White Yeti (927387) | more than 8 years ago | (#15474181)

One thing I miss about the old This Old House is the DIY aspect. The homeowners were expected to do some of the work, and most of the clean-up. So, what used to be Bob saying "Now Norm will show us how to raise this wall and put in new blocks" is now Steve saying "Now Tommy's crew will show us how they use several rams to lift this wing while injecting new poly-cement to level the structure."

My Favourite (3, Insightful)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 8 years ago | (#15471218)

Was the mudguard repair (I know, no mud on the moon but I refuse to say "fender" like an American) on apollo 17. Maps and sticky tape really came in handy that time.

Re:My Favourite (2, Informative)

ZSpade (812879) | more than 8 years ago | (#15471529)

What was that fender comment all about? You know...

Wikipedia - A fender is a portion of an automobile body that frames a wheel well. In British English the fender is called the wing. Usually a passenger automobile will have four fenders, with one over each wheel well.

Re:My Favourite (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 8 years ago | (#15475743)

What was that fender comment all about? You know...

Its just not used at all here in Australia. I was just having a dig.

Re:My Favourite (1)

ZSpade (812879) | more than 8 years ago | (#15477425)

Ahh, I see. Crazy Aussie. Now that I know where your from though, the term makes more sense.

Re:My Favourite (1)

KermodeBear (738243) | more than 8 years ago | (#15473166)

And that was modded up 'Interesting'? Moderators on crack today, I guess. Can't recognize a troll when they see one.

Genetic roots of terminological intransigence (1)

alienmole (15522) | more than 8 years ago | (#15489219)

So you'd rather use a totally inappropriate term than an appropriate one because... wait, why exactly? Clearly, that convict heritage expresses itself more strongly in some Aussies than others.

Power tools (0)

mobby_6kl (668092) | more than 8 years ago | (#15471221)

I hope it isn't this ultimate man-tool [realtechnews.com] they're now missing. Because without it, how would they cut off all those useless four inch antennas?

Re:Power tools (1)

ClamIAm (926466) | more than 8 years ago | (#15471486)

What planet are you on, man? (bonus points for relevant joke) Anyway, here's the real ultimate man tool [wikipedia.org] .

Off topic but, (-1, Offtopic)

pair-a-noyd (594371) | more than 8 years ago | (#15471227)

What the hell have you folks done to /. ??????

Everything here looks totally dicked up with Konqueror !!

It looks totally different than it did yesterday, all the text is messed up and unreadable!

You've changed something since yesterday and it's not for the better!

Do you try these changes out before you implement them? I thought this was a pro Linux place..
WTF??

Re:Off topic but, (2, Informative)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 8 years ago | (#15471246)

Everything here looks totally dicked up with Konqueror

Here in Konqueror 3.3.0-8 it looks much the same as it does in Firefox.

Re:Off topic but, (1)

pair-a-noyd (594371) | more than 8 years ago | (#15471294)

Here's what it looks like in Konq 3.5.3

Look in the upper left corner, all the text from the left sid menus jumped to the top and is all overlayed on top of each other in an unreadable jumble. Not to mention, unusable..

http://img134.imageshack.us/img134/7/omfgx4818yv.j pg [imageshack.us]

Re:Off topic but, (1)

michrech (468134) | more than 8 years ago | (#15471344)

I'musing Konquerer 3.5.3 in KDE 3.5.3 and do not suffer (?) from the same problem you are. The text is laid out perfectly, as it is in Firefox and IE.

Re:Off topic but, (1)

michrech (468134) | more than 8 years ago | (#15471355)

Ooor not. After I pulled the page up, I turned around to type my previous message, looked back to close it, and the text was screwed. I have no idea what is going on. It was fine while it said "Loading 62 of 63 images". When that last image loaded, the text screwed up.

Oh well.. :)

Re:Off topic but, (1)

Ant P. (974313) | more than 8 years ago | (#15471778)

Even weirder, if you scroll the page down and up it magically fixes itself. Reminds me of IE...

Re:Off topic but, (1)

arodland (127775) | more than 8 years ago | (#15475769)

I'm willing to bet that it is, in fact, a konqueror bug -- because there used to be one just like it with buttons, a long time ago. Konqueror would render the buttons for forms somewhere up near the top of the page instead of anywhere near where it was placed in the form, but if you scrolled the button offscreen, it would magically pop to where it belonged. However, I've got to say that slashdot must be doing something weird to trigger this effect, because it's pretty hard to cause any sort of serious breakage in Konqueror anymore.

Re:Off topic but, (1)

Exaton (523551) | more than 8 years ago | (#15471307)

It's actually been in the works [slashdot.org] for some time [slashdot.org] now, you know [slashdot.org] ...

Sorry you missed it !

I think it looks great ; do upgrade your browser, you're missing out :)

Re:Off topic but, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15474561)

I notice the W3C validator is still blocked...

Have they just not got around to changing it, or are they still ashamed of their code?

uh, It's nothing like your house (3, Insightful)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 8 years ago | (#15471285)

first of all, it's not like you can take something to work, leave it in the other car, etc. If it's on the station, it's on the station still. If you didn't find it in 5 minutes, then your method for looking/putting away is failing. There should be a process, etc. etc. AFter all, you can't even "set something down" in space. "Setting down" a wrench would just make it float away, and then it would smack you in the head later on.

Re:uh, It's nothing like your house (5, Interesting)

iktos (166530) | more than 8 years ago | (#15471868)

If you didn't find it in 5 minutes, then your method for looking/putting away is failing. There should be a process, etc. etc.

They had a process on Skylab. In the storage compartment there were 2000 lockers, on the ground there was a team of six working in shifts with a pair of redundant computers keeping track of what was put in which locker.
Didn't work either. And since (almost) everything was supposed to be secured inside something, it couldn't be found just by walking around and looking for it.

Re:uh, It's nothing like your house (1)

purfledspruce (821548) | more than 8 years ago | (#15472493)

Well, ya' know, there probably IS a process/proceedure for this. Everything about the station is carefully controlled. Still, it's in space, things float (I understand that *everything* floats, which means there's a layer of brown goop on the inside the Shuttle that has to be cleaned off after every flight), and there are tons of little cubbys where you keep everything. The astronauts' labor is some of the most expensive labor ever--if they can't find something in a few minutes, I'd ask them to improvise, too, since it costs (depending on how you calculate) between $500,000,000 and $8,000,000,000 per Shuttle launch to get them up there in the first place...that's a lot of $/hour once they're there...

Re:uh, It's nothing like your house (1)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 8 years ago | (#15495945)

Why not use rfid tags and hook it to one of those "press a button to make beep noise" key-finding devices? That way, if the item floats to another compartment, you hit a button in the cockpit and then just float towards the noise... IANARS (rocket scientist), but my dad's a retired one, not that it matters.

Re:uh, It's nothing like your house (1)

purfledspruce (821548) | more than 8 years ago | (#15496020)

Y'know, that's not a bad idea. I don't know much about RFIDs, but there should be a way of tagging items (don't know how hard that is) and keeping a database in a computer...I'll have to see if I can pass that along to someone, thanks!

Re:uh, It's nothing like your house (1)

purfledspruce (821548) | more than 8 years ago | (#15496083)

Well, I did what I could: I told one of my managers who has worked with space operations before, she may be able to pass it along. By the way, she thought yours was a good idea too...I couldn't credit you directly, but told her where it came from.

Of course, the problem is that most engineers here at NASA are a bit slow on the uptake of new technology...to get something not only space qualified, but also human rated...well, it could take years and many $. The environment is much harsher up there than most people (including me!) realize, and naturally they want to protect the astronauts. We'll see if it goes anywhere, though, thanks for the idea!

I'm in Sync with the ISS guys (2, Funny)

Quirk (36086) | more than 8 years ago | (#15471288)

My mountain bike is now in many pieces with three different tool kits broken open and scattered among the bike parts. I know the tools are there, it's just, I don't know exactly where.

I think the way to go is to have different multitools for particular jobs.

I love working on my bike, but man o man what I wouldn't give for a shot to work on the ISS. Of course getting the beer and bong onto the station could be difficult.

Re:I'm in Sync with the ISS guys (1)

Keebler71 (520908) | more than 8 years ago | (#15474662)

Goodluck with a beer bong in space... If you get the chance, I would recommend shotgunning it instead... the physics are more in your favor.

Re:I'm in Sync with the ISS guys (1)

feronti (413011) | more than 8 years ago | (#15476830)

Um, I don't think he meant a beer bong. Of course, fire's weird in zero-g, too... so you'd probably still have problems with the bowl going out.

Re:I'm in Sync with the ISS guys (1)

pintpusher (854001) | more than 8 years ago | (#15477265)

Um, I think you're missing the point too. How do you keep from sucking up the water in said bong? Plus do they have ice cubes in the shuttle? Cause nothin' beats the ice-bong at sunrise...

which comes what, every two hours for them? sweet.

Re:I'm in Sync with the ISS guys (1)

feronti (413011) | more than 8 years ago | (#15484342)

Do a multi-chambered bong, with one chamber spinning so the water stays at one end... just make sure that the water is below the axis, so you can put the connection between the two chambers there... Of course, now you're gonna have to put a screen on top of the bud, so it doesn't fly away. My, but this is complicated. I wish I had some weed so I could actually figure this out...

Re:I'm in Sync with the ISS guys (1)

bcmm (768152) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478093)

I wonder if you could design some sort of pressure-driven bong in which water doesn't escape in microgravity.

space psychology (3, Funny)

dalutong (260603) | more than 8 years ago | (#15471337)

You set your car keys down somewhere and hopefully you find them again later when you try to remember it.

That's the problem with earthlings going to space -- we can't deal with space-based habits that contradict our own. On Earth we can hope to find our keys where we set them down. In space they float away.

Re:space psychology (3, Interesting)

Mondoz (672060) | more than 8 years ago | (#15472206)

During Bill MacArthur's flight (Increment 12), he lost his PDA for about 4 weeks. He was later doing some maintenance on some of the vents in the airlock, and it came shooting out of an out-flow vent, along with some other missing items. Apparently, it had gotten sucked into a vent somewhere, and had been sitting in a duct.
Things easily get away from you in the station if they're not tethered down or put back exactly where they came from.

They use an Inventory Management System to track inventory, but when you consider that there are over 30,000 individual items and locations onboard, it gets a little hard to manage.
It works well most of the time, but any inventory system is only as good as its data. If they forget to mark down where they put something, it could take ages to find.

When you have everything you could possibly need for living in, working on, experimenting, and maintaining a space station for six months, in an enclosed space the size of a few school buses, things can get kinda cluttered.
http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/gallery/images/station /crew-12/html/iss012e12909.html [nasa.gov]
http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/gallery/images/station /crew-12/html/iss012e18578.html [nasa.gov]

Whole gallery here:
http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/gallery/images/station /crew-12/ndxpage1.html [nasa.gov]

Re:space psychology (1)

Doctor Memory (6336) | more than 8 years ago | (#15472281)

when you consider that there are over 30,000 individual items and locations onboard, it gets a little hard to manage.


Sounds like one of the first reasonable applications of an RFID system. If you're looking for something, you grab a "magic wand" (RFID reader) and start waving it around. When the want gets a signal from the thing you're looking for, it beeps and lights up and you get to spend a minute or so playing "hot or cold" until you zero in on it.

What could possibly go wrong???

Re:space psychology (1)

Captain DaFt (755254) | more than 8 years ago | (#15476705)

"Apparently, it had gotten sucked into a vent somewhere, and had been sitting in a duct."

And there's the answer right there; anything left loose on the space station WILL end up on or in an air vent.
So just put a mesh cover over the vent s so nothing gets sucked in, and check them first when something goes missing.

(Something loose in the ductwork might explain that mysterious noise http://www.spacetoday.net/Summary/2049 [spacetoday.net] they keep hearing. just a thought.)

Re:space psychology (1)

Mondoz (672060) | more than 8 years ago | (#15480332)

"And there's the answer right there; anything left loose on the space station WILL end up on or in an air vent."

Not always.
There's quite a few nooks and crannies that things can get bumped into on accident. Things end up getting pushed behind bags, stuck in between the removable panel covers, etc...
They find a few things in the vents occasionally, but not enough to believe a mod to the vent covers would be a panacea. (There actually are vent covers, which makes this story a bit surprising; things aren't supposed to get sucked in there.)

If they end up near enough to a vent to be affected by the suction, they might get pulled towards it, but unlike the movies would portray it, air vents and leaks aren't quite like hurricane force winds. :)

Re:space psychology (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 8 years ago | (#15477438)

Things easily get away from you in the station if they're not tethered down or put back exactly where they came from.

They can blame it on no gravity, but we have toddlers.
         

Re:space psychology (1)

NateTech (50881) | more than 8 years ago | (#15483579)

I love seeing that there's like six different types of DUCT TAPE in that photo. And a ThinkPad. ;-)

Re:space psychology (1)

Mondoz (672060) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487145)

The IBM A31P is currently the type of computer they use on board. They have about a dozen deployed around the station, all networked together.
Unfortunately, at the moment, they're still using coax cables instead of standard twisted pair cables.
Eventually, once they certify the built-in ethernet port in the laptops, they'll upgrade to that, and stop using the 3Com PCMCIA cards & 'dongles' to connect them.

They can use wireless, but they are still using Proxim cards and access points. Hopefully, the plan to upgrade to 802.11 on board will be implemented sometime next year.
Unfortunately, because it takes so long for new electronics to be certified and flown, that the hardware ends up being antiquated by the time it's replaced.

Re:space psychology (1)

NateTech (50881) | more than 8 years ago | (#15498876)

Yeah, understand. I've followed some of the certification process for the Amateur Radio gear on board, and it's tough. I'm a big fan of the GE MP/A series of "handheld" radios, and always liked seeing the old girl on board before the Kenwood was certified.

Love to talk to those guys when one of them is excited about Ham Radio - it's so cool to show a kid or family member that with 5 watts into a modest antenna, one can be talking to an astronaut during their "free time".

Great stuff.

Re:space psychology (1)

HermanAB (661181) | more than 8 years ago | (#15477610)

Simple. Soap on a Rope. Just string the tools up. How hard can that be?

And (3, Interesting)

Konster (252488) | more than 8 years ago | (#15471341)

It's an interesting study on things we take for granted when people are deprived of things like the sense of gravity and of place. Couple in the fact that humans are really crappy multi-taskers, and none of this surprises me. An astronaut is deprived of a great many senses, most of which need to be compensated for with conscious effort, which leaves less brain for other stuff.

Simple tasks aren't so simple anymore when your brain is trying to compensate for input that is no longer really there. And then they have to fight off vertigo, which is hard even for people on Earth.

All this I took for granted before a little bit of brain damage, which recoverying from is a trivial little bit of recovery over a long, long time. Sadly, I remember how easy thing were before my neurons got scrambled, everything now takes a lot of conscious effort, mostly due to the fact that I don't perceive my senses as I should, and sometimes I have to really think about things, in single file to make it through the day. Forget about making internet postings and listening to music at the same time. I cannot fathom more than one task at a time, really, when I used to be able to do many. It's constant vertigo, every second of every day, and after some months, it becomes a heavy burden.

The point being is that their brains are more than likely scrambling to make sense out of the senseless, and leaving a screwdriver out in the void is probably pretty small taters, considering everything else.

Chewing gum wrapper, Swiss Army Knife, Duck Tape (5, Funny)

strikeleader (937501) | more than 8 years ago | (#15471402)

MacGyver would be proud.

Article headline is ambiguous... (4, Funny)

GreenPenInc (792018) | more than 8 years ago | (#15471474)

For a sec, I thought they were insulting the astronauts, calling them a bunch of tools who couldn't find their way back to Earth.

ObUCB (1)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 8 years ago | (#15471648)

Freaking astronauts, driving their moon buggies around at all hours of the night, blasting the "2001" theme... Don't turn your back on 'em, they'll stick a flag in ya!

In Rod We Trust (3, Funny)

tehlinux (896034) | more than 8 years ago | (#15471658)

Did they improvise with an inanimate carbon rod?

Not a CNN story, an AP story (1)

empaler (130732) | more than 8 years ago | (#15472088)

Even says so at the bottom of the CNN replication of the story. Damnit.

Uh, what? (1)

Cthefuture (665326) | more than 8 years ago | (#15472144)

I have never once lost my keys or one of my tools.

You know why? I always put them in the same place or places. ie. I pick up my stuff and clean up when I'm done. It's a process. I can't believe anyone in such a danagerous place would be so careless.

I know my keys are always in the last pair of pants I wore. I never take my keys our of my pocket unless I'm using them. My tools are always in the appropriate toolbox unless I'm using them.

Re:Uh, what? (1)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 8 years ago | (#15472780)


You know why? I always put them in the same place or places


sure, but in your house, those things don't get up and float away when you're not looking :-)

(I think the serious answer is they have several people using these things - think of your wife tidying up, and you trying to find your stuff then)

Re:Uh, what? (1)

trongey (21550) | more than 8 years ago | (#15475589)

... think of your wife tidying up, and you trying to find your stuff then.

This is Slashdot. He probably can't even comprehend having a wife.

Re:Uh, what? (1)

robertjw (728654) | more than 8 years ago | (#15485184)

This is Slashdot. He probably can't even comprehend having a wife.

He's not a typical Slashdotter - we aren't that organized. No wives around to bitch when we leave stuff laying around.

Re:Uh, what? (1)

hurfy (735314) | more than 8 years ago | (#15476328)

"sure, but in your house, those things don't get up and float away when you're not looking :-)"

obviously you dont have a cat eh?
hmm, shiny object...whack whack whack gone :)

Stubby screwdrivers are especially mystical, hehe

Good thing she doesn't get much use of the 3rd dimension, i'd never find anything. hehe, picturing the cat batting stuff around the space station makes a nice image but will she land on her feet :)

Re:Uh, what? (2, Interesting)

iamlucky13 (795185) | more than 8 years ago | (#15473300)

You also probably use your keys every day, making habit pretty easy to achieve and giving you a reason to have a place (counter, key rack, whatever) where you normally keep them. Your keys don't get delivered to your house along with a 1000 pounds of other supplies that have to be quickly stowed out of the way where it will fit. It's not like the ISS has a nice pegboards all over the walls like your garage with pretty outlines drawn around the hooks for the hammers and the screwdrivers.

Look at what was lost, too. These were single use items. They don't have any special place to be kept. It was a bag to hold a small sample plate (easily replaced) and a foot restraint for EVA (they had a spare). Two small, probably very mundane looking objects that are no doubt very easy to lose track of when you have two guys unloading a Progress cargo ship full of stuff that might not be used for 3 months by themselves while also continuing their regular duties of monitoring the station and the experiments running onboard.

I suppose it is a little disappointing to lose stuff in a big aluminum tube. You know it's in there, and it's undoubtably safely stowed, you just can't find it. The fact that losing two such simple objects in a structure the size of the average house but much more crowded is even a story sort of shows how well they do of keeping track of things. I seriously doubt anyone here can tell someone exactly where everything in their house is, especially if they just moved into the house 2 months ago and someone else handled most of the moving.

I do have to say, these are rather boring as far as innovative solutions. Not quite like using duct tape and urine bags to adapt the big round C02 srcubbers from the CM to interface with the little square hole on the LEM on Apollo 13 or basically stretching a tarp over Skylab to help reduce solar heating. Also, apparently the Russian cosmonaut (I forget his name), accidentally dropped a tool during the last EVA. It had enough momentum there was nothing he could do but watch it float out past the solar panels.

Re:Uh, what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15484343)

I believe he was referring specifically to the article where they say it's like losing your keys.

Sorry, I don't know what that is like either.

I wonder.... (1)

GaBTGurl (975312) | more than 8 years ago | (#15472300)

Does the Craftsman tools lifetime warrantee cover tools taken into Outer Space? ;-)

I guess maybe I see this in a different light. (1, Insightful)

member57 (680279) | more than 8 years ago | (#15472334)

As a tax payer, I am pissed that they are "misplacing" tools that cost way more than tools I have in my garage. Just think about how much it cost to supply them with those tools, testing, purchasing then launching them into orbit. NASA doesn't just go to Sears to get a wrench then load it onto a lauch vehicle and away it goes. The damn thing is spec'd out, high priced contractors offer up prototypes, testing, redesigned, retested, etc. costing thousands even millions of dollars for EACH tool. The press then makes light of it like it was a show on DIY network. I don't find it even remotely fascinating or funny.

Re:I guess maybe I see this in a different light. (1)

TheDreadSlashdotterD (966361) | more than 8 years ago | (#15473711)

Makes you wonder why they don't have rfid tags and a cappuccino machine.

Re: Space Tools (1)

some guy I know (229718) | more than 8 years ago | (#15487184)

NASA doesn't just go to Sears to get a wrench then load it onto a lauch [sic] vehicle and away it goes.
Actually, with some of their tools, it's pretty close to that.
I saw a program once where some NASA guy showed off some of the tools carried up on the Space Shuttle during the Hubble repair mission.
Some of them were purchased "off the shelf" and modified for use in space.
For example, their adjustable wrench (Br. spanner) was an ordinary adjustable wrench whose handle was encased with a larger handle so that it could be held with bulky space suit gloves.
(I have no idea how they actually adjusted the wrench with those same bulky gloves.)
Other items, such as socket wrench sockets, were ordinary store-bought sockets with holes drilled in them for tether pins, so they wouldn't float away into space.
All of the above was for the Space Shuttle several years ago, but I assume that similar tools are used on the International Space Station.

Re: Space Tools (1)

member57 (680279) | more than 8 years ago | (#15488310)

The ISS probably uses light weight tools. Going up for one repair mission is whole lot different than the ISS. The ISS in in constant orbit, the less the mass, the better for fuel consumption for orbit corrections. Also cargo constraints are a HUGE factor. Consider this, the Astronauts are excited to get a few grams of extra cargo for each resupply mission. With each Shuttle launch costing around 1 billion, a little less for other vehciles, nonetheless, cargo is expensive. So these assholes lose tools, if they need to be replaced it's considerably over $1000.00 per pound, that's one hell of a FedEx bill! Surgeons and O.R. Nurses count everything, down to the last suture needle, as it may cost the a few million in liability. Why the hell can't these over-educated, over-paid grease monkeys do the same? NASA is nothing but a bottomless money pit, a dollar grinding machine. Making light of losing tools isn't funny or fascinating, this costs money, lots of money. If I had "lost" a vehicle while I was in the military, do you think they would make light of it, costs are about the same, why not? Somebody should be held accountable for this misuse of taxpayer money!

Oh, that explains it... (4, Funny)

corbettl (979577) | more than 8 years ago | (#15472396)

That's why I had a slightly melted rench & racket set stuck in my windshield this morning!

Obligatory Yakov (1)

Trails (629752) | more than 8 years ago | (#15472455)

In Soviet Russia, tools lose you!

DIY is part of the space program (3, Insightful)

thewiz (24994) | more than 8 years ago | (#15472523)

Nonetheless, nice to see the Do It Yourself (DIY) spirit at work in space."

DIY has been part of the space program since Chuck Yeager used a broom handle to close the door on the X-1 after breaking his arm in a horse riding accident. I think the best example is when the Apollo 13 astronauts rigged an air scrubber and used their lunar module as a propulsion system to get home after the service module blew up.

Nice to see the tradition being carried on.

Re:DIY is part of the space program (1)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 8 years ago | (#15473622)

I think the best example is when the Apollo 13 astronauts rigged an air scrubber and used their lunar module as a propulsion system to get home after the service module blew up.

Way off on some of the facts. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_13 [wikipedia.org]

The air scrubber in the lunar lander unit and the air scrubber in the service module were different shapes (one round, one square). The engineers on earth figured out how to put a round peg in a squar hole.

The service module did not blow up, an oxygen tank ruptured. However, they did use the lunar module propulsion for a course correction.

Re:DIY is part of the space program (2, Informative)

MSFanBoi2 (930319) | more than 8 years ago | (#15474147)

Actually Yeager broke some ribs, not his arm...

Hmm... maybe a useful app for RFID? (1)

WoTG (610710) | more than 8 years ago | (#15473583)

When stuff breaks unexpectantly (like Apollo 13) and you have to jerry-rig something in space, it's cool to DIY. But to loose a tool because it's "just like loosing your car keys", then it's not so smart. Those tools aren't cheap, and the gear up there that is at risk from a missing tool is far far far from cheap.

So... maybe this would be a really good application for RFIDs? Stick a tag on all the tools and at least you'll have an easy way to find anything that get's lost.

Re:Hmm... maybe a useful app for RFID? (1)

Tweekster (949766) | more than 8 years ago | (#15473826)

Yeah, but wont rfid just say it exists. Not exactly useful in a relatively small environment.

"well its here somewhere, we know it didnt float away outside"

Re:Hmm... maybe a useful app for RFID? (1)

bcmm (768152) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478105)

Well, you could probably develop a system to measure the signal intensity from an RFID tag. Then you could sort of wave a handheld thing around, getting closer to the thing you're looking for.

Of course, they'd probably lose the scanner too, but hey.

Re:Hmm... maybe a useful app for RFID? (1)

robertjw (728654) | more than 8 years ago | (#15485170)

Maybe they should just get one of those whistle thingys like they (used to?) make for your car keys.

Maybe they should have bought their tools from... (1)

RealGrouchy (943109) | more than 8 years ago | (#15476530)

Maybe they should have bought their tools from Wal-Mart [dcvelocity.com] ?

(but seriously, please don't buy from Wal-Mart).

- RG>
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