The Expensive Mistake That Made An Astronaut Resign

In 2009, astronaut Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper resigned from NASA. she became a mission specialist astronaut in 1998, having previously served as a diving and salvage officer in the U.S. Navy. She holds an advanced degree in mechanical engineering from MIT, and after qualifying as an astronaut flew as space shuttle crew twice, in 2006 and 2008. It was during the 2008 trip aboard the shuttle Endeavour to the International Space Station that a mishap occurred. While Heide was trying to clean up grease that inadvertently spurted from her grease gun, her $100,000 toolbag drifted out of her reach and sailed off into space. The orbiting toolbag was, for some time, a favorite among amateur skywatchers. It finally reentered the earth’s atmosphere and burned up upon reentry. The then-46-year-old astronaut was so disheartened that she resigned from the agency. She immediately returned to U.S. Navy service, but it seems unlikely she will ever forget her last mission as an astronaut.