By now you’ve heard about the lost bag o’ tools in orbit. I’ve been thinking a lot about Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper, the poor astronaut who lost that bag, ever since the moment I read about it. I feel for her from the deepest pit of my heart. Think about the titles we give our astronauts. Gus Grissom, test pilot. Alexei Leonov, first spacewalker. John Young, first shuttle pilot. Paul Lockhart, Mars mission planner. Noble titles for some really exceptional individuals. Those titles will remain with them forever, regardless of whatever else they do or have done with their lives.
Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper, first female lead for a spacewalking mission for a shuttle flight… and the one who lost a toolbag.
She also will live with this always. Even though it was something that could have happened to anyone. You know that moment haunts her dreams. Watching a $100,000 worth of tools float just out of reach, and then fall well beyond her reach. I know she’d like to forget all about it.
Would you like to see it? Turns out people have been watching this thing fly overhead all week. According to spaceweather.com the toolbag is visible with a pair of 10×50 binoculars. One guy even recorded a movie of a pass over his area. Spaceweather.com is keeping track of the bag (along with the ISS, Hubble, Genesis, and several other popular satellite targets) and has updates for predicted flybys in your area here. For those of us in the southern US, don’t go looking for the bag for at least a week. Since it’s now at a lower altitude than the ISS, it’s moving faster than the station and pulling farther ahead each day. And the station won’t be visible over our area until the weekend of Dec. 6. But when the passes favor my backyard again, you know I’m going to be looking for it!
Talk about messing up where the whole world can see. I really, really feel for her.