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Heidemarie 'Toolbag' Piper set for second spacewalk

While ISS crew hunt missing spider

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Endeavour mission specialists Shane Kimbrough and Heide Stefanyshyn-Piper are getting ready for the second mission STS-126 spacewalk outside the International Space Station this afternoon, scheduled to get under way at 18:45 GMT.

Their lisk of jobs includes "the relocation of two crew and equipment translation aid carts, the lubrication of the Canadarm2 end effector, and the continuation of cleaning and lubrication of the starboard solar alpha rotary joint".

Piper earlier this week dropped a toolbag during the first spacewalk - a mishap she described as "very disheartening". She added: "There's still the psychological thing of knowing that we made a mistake and having to live through that. It was hardest coming back in and having to face everybody else."

Piper did, though, insist there would be no repeat performance, tempting fate with: "You're not going to see us lose another bag. We're going to double- and triple-check everything from here on out."

Inside the ISS, meanwhile, crew are keeping a sharp eye out for one of two orb spiders which may have gone awol from a sealed container which arrived aboard Endeavour. The arachnids form part of an experiment aimed at promoting science to students, which consists of seeing how they cope with web-weaving in space.

The answer is not very well, as the ISS's science officer Sandra Magnus explained: "The web was more or less three-dimensional and it looked like it was all over the inside of the spider hab."

Crew on Monday checked the pair, but could only see one inside the tangled silken matrix. NASA insisted, though, that the missing spider was probably somewhere amid the confusion. Kirk Shireman, NASA's deputy station program manager, said: "We don't believe that it's escaped the overall payload enclosure. I'm sure we'll find him spinning a web sometime here in the next few days."

NASA has STS-126 mission updates here. ®

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