CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – It's easy to misplace your car keys or reading glasses in your own home. Imagine how easy it would be to lose them amid thousands of tools and construction supplies if you were building your house. That's how NASA officials described life on the international space station Tuesday as they explained why some equipment needed for this week's spacewalk is missing.
"By the way, you can't go to Home Depot," said Kirk Shireman, NASA's space station program deputy manager. "You have to have everything you need there, so we have filled up the space station."
The nearly six-hour spacewalk will go forward anyway Thursday with some improvising. Russian commander Pavel Vinogradov and U.S. flight engineer Jeff Williams will be doing a series of housekeeping tasks.
The missing items include a rubber bag with a clasp needed to hold a residue collection plate which will be removed from the outside of the station during the spacewalk. Instead of the rubber bag, several bags secured with bungee cords will be used for carrying the plate, which has toxic contaminants.
Also missing is part of a Russian foot restraint for holding Vinogradov in place at the end of a 55-foot boom. Vinogradov will use a U.S.-made tether for restraint.
"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."
Shireman also said that a publicity stunt for a Canadian golf club manufacturer in which Vinogradov was going to hit a gold-plated golf ball during the spacewalk had been postponed until later in the year.
The decision was made by officials with Russia's space agency, which is being paid an undisclosed amount, and had nothing to do with safety concerns. NASA is close to signing off on the stunt after reviewing a safety analysis, Shireman said.