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Space Shuttle Spacewalk Jigsaw Puzzle


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Piece together this dramatic jigsaw puzzle of British-born astronaut Piers Sellers on a spacewalk during space shuttle Discovery's STS-121 mission.

Launched 4th July 2006, the STS-121 mission was the first Independence Day shuttle lunch and would last 13 days,. During this time, the Discovery crew tested new procedures and equipmement designed to increase the Space Shuttle's safety, inspired by February 2003's Columbia disaster.

The shuttle transported German Astronaut Thomas Reiter to the International Space Station, bringing the station's crew back up to three members. Since the Columbia disaster and the resulting temporary grounding of the shuttle, the International Space station had been running with only two resident astronauts. As well as Thomas Reiter, over 7,400 lbs of supplies and equipment were brought up to the International Space Station including a laboratory freezer capable of temapratures as low as -80 degrees celsius, and a new bicycle exercise machine for the International Space Station crew. These supplies were carried in a large pressurised container located in the shuttle's payload bay. The container, known technically as a Multi-Purpose Logistics Module, was given the name Leonardo after one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The Leonardo was docked directly on to the International Space Station's Unity module to offload the supplies and to be re-filled with more than 4,000 pounds of completed experiments to be returned to earth as well as items which were no longer needed and general trash.

The picture in this jigsaw puzzle was taken during the 3rd and final spacwalk of the STS-121 mission. During this walk which began at around 11:20 UTC on 3rd July 2006 and lasted 7 hours and 11 minutes, Piers Sellars was accompanied by Mike Fossum. The two astronauts tested methods of repairing heat resistant tiles.A pallet with a dozen prepared tiles had been brought up in the pay load bay. After the Columbia disaster of February 2003, NASA had reviiewed heat shield repair technologies. Fossum and Sellers experimented with a special filler which was still in the development statge, designed to seal small tears and joints. The aim was to determine how well this can be applied and spread under space conditions. Infrared photographs wre then taken of the test tiles, and comparisons were made between photos of the treated tiles and the untreated tiles' photos.

During the spacewalk, Piers Sellers lost a spatula which he had been using for applying the adhesive. It is very rare for tools to be lost on a spacewalk. With the help of fellow astronaut, Mike Fossum, he tried to find it but to no avail. Mike Fossum consoled Piers Sellars, saying "Don't worry it happens". Ground control were able to observe the tool floating away with a camera, and calculated that its flight path did not represent a hazard for the orbiter or the station. Piers Sellars apologised for losing the spatula and for the extra work caused to Ground Control in calculating whether it would cause a danger.

The success of the STS-121 mission resulted in NASA re-starting regular shuttle journeys to for the supply and continued construction of the International Space Station

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