back to article Astronaut took camera on spacewalk, but forgot SD memory card

An International Space Station astronaut took a GoPro camera for a space walk last week, but forgot to bring any memory. “A question about the GoPro real quick,” asks astronaut Andrew Feustel in the video below. “I’m pushing the button I see a ‘no SD’. Do I need that to record? And if it is recording is there supposed to be a …

  1. Chris G Silver badge

    Lost for words

    See title

    1. MyffyW Silver badge

      Re: Lost for words

      Aphasia is the word you're searching for.

      1. CrazyOldCatMan

        Re: Lost for words

        Aphasia is the word you're searching for.

        Sorry, I don't know what you mean..

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A few years back..

      I remember listening in to a Space Shuttle mission to the Space station, the astronauts were enjoying some free time, attempting to have a movie night and asked Mission control regards a software error when attempting to play a DVD in Windows. It turned out that DVD playback wasn't possible on the Windows laptop and there was no way of fixing the software.

      Good luck using Windows 10 in space.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: A few years back..

        "Good luck using Windows 10 in space."

        They should have just installed any distro on terra firma ...and enable the non-free repos on orbit.

        Same difference?

      2. Bod

        Re: A few years back..

        " It turned out that DVD playback wasn't possible on the Windows laptop and there was no way of fixing the software."

        Even if it did, what region would you set it to as you pass each of the regions in the world rapidly?

        1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: A few years back..

          Region 8 - they already thought of it!

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DVD_region_code

      3. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: A few years back..

        ...attempting to play a DVD in Windows

        For all Windows versions I've used, from 95 though 10, I have rarely, if ever, managed to play *any* video media through the supplied Windows Media Player (or whatever they're calling it now). And I'm fairly sure, though can't prove it, that Windows advertising often shows families happily playing videos on their Windows PCs.

        The reality is slightly less satisfactory. For video files, the response is always "Unknown codec, would you like to search for one?", and the search always returns "No codec found". Every time. DVDs tell you "we don't play DVDs, you need to buy something to do that".

        Our IT guys at work got so frustrated with it, they now recommend VLC. Which is what I have used...almost forever.

    3. ' DROP TABLE CommentTards;

      Re: Lost for words

      At least it wasn't Lost in Spaaaace

  2. LDS Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Next NASA manual...

    .... a 250 page book about SD cards and their use in spaaaaaace.....

    PS: what do astronauts use to take holidays pics? A telescope with the Wide Field Camera attached, and data transmitted with satellite rely to a supercomputer with a bunch of technicians processing them?

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Next NASA manual...

      how to insert/remove an SD card while wearing space gloves...

      1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

        Re: Next NASA manual...

        ...how to insert/remove an SD card while wearing space gloves...

        Vol II - The microSD Card

        :-)

  3. regbadgerer

    Well, I suppose we're all thinking that an astronaut should be more than capable of understanding a 'no SD' message. On the other hand, a spacewalk is a very high-pressure environment and they're being bombarded with so many pieces of information and instructions that they simply don't have the spare brain capacity to handle extra weirdness like this. Also, I guess they're probably prioritising staying alive over playing with a new gadget.

    Perhaps more interesting is that they actually expected a gopro to work in space?

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Perhaps more interesting is that they actually expected a gopro to work in space?

      That's what I was thinking. But I suppose it would be OK for quite a while if you kept it out of the sunlight and it didn't have too great a contact area with the astronaut.

    2. Steve K Silver badge

      That's what checklists are for

      That's why they have validated checklists for the REALLY important stuff....

      Embarassing/frustrating but not life-threatening in this case

    3. PNGuinn
      Coat

      shiny!

      Personally, with a new bit of shiny to play with, I'd

      1. Check the bloody batteries are suitable and fitted / charged.

      2. Check the recording media for size and fitting.

      3. Try the bloody thing out and get to understand how to use it.

      4. TURN OFF it's ability to phone home with all my precious data. (Even in spaaace you can't be too careful!)

      5. RTFM

      >> Thanks, it's the one with the tinfoil lined space helmet in the pocket.

      1. JonP

        Re: shiny!

        5. RTFM

        yeah yeah - no one RTFM until something goes wrong! ;-)

      2. Steve K Silver badge
        Alert

        Re: shiny!

        2 omissions?

        2a. Check that SD Write-Protect tab is set to Write-Enable/Off prior to insertion in to camera

        6. Open pod bay doors, Hal

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      This!

      If not a "specialist only" type problem, where someone is an expert only at one thing (spacewalks here ;) )... it's most likely a high pressure environment meant they skipped one or two braincells in a slight (reasonable) panic (limited oxygen/time/resources).

      SmarterEveryDay on Youtube has a perfect example of this. Professional (semi I guess) photographer, scientist, expert and has spent hours or days setting up to film the solar eclipse in the US. The event happens, everything goes dark, and it's so amazing, when they press the button, and it's all black, they just panic/exit strategy the attempt... turns out they forgot to take off the lense cap. But with 30 seconds or less chance, they chose to experience the event, instead of spending 35 seconds fault finding the camera, to find the lense cap, and miss both photographs and seeing the eclipse themselves (finding the glasses was easier than finding the lense cap! ).

      1. ArrZarr
        Boffin

        Re: This!

        @TechnicalBen

        No discussion about problems with lens caps and space can be complete without referencing the Venera 9, 10, 11, 12 and 14 missions. 9 to 12 had 6 failures from 8 attempts to release the lens cap. 14 did release the lens cap but it landed underneath one of the ground experiments, resulting in them testing the compressibility of the lens cap. Rather than Venus (which I imagine she appreciated)

    5. Jon 37 Silver badge

      He may well have known what it meant.

      If you're being *really careful*, you don't assume anything. If your training didn't cover what the "no SD" message meant, and you see it, then *you ask Mission Control*. Even if you think you can guess what it means.

      And you tell them the *facts*, which are "I can see a message saying no SD", you don't just guess what it means and tell them "oops I must have forgotten to put the SD card in". There are a lot of really good experts on the ground who will help with troubleshooting, but they need facts not wild-ass guesses.

      And a spacewalk is a really good time to be *really careful*.

      You might say "oh it's just a GoPro"... but being really careful is a mindset, you want astronauts to be really careful with the important stuff, but it's not always clear what "the important stuff" is, especially under stress, so you train them to be really careful always ... and especially on a spacewalk.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: He may well have known what it meant.

        I can't upvote Jon 37 enough. The astronaut was reporting the observed facts and not making assumptions (it is an assumption that No SD Card means there is no SD card present (even if it's an assumption that might prove to be correct most of the time) because it might be a contact problem or a cosmic ray-induced camera logic error.

        1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

          Re: He may well have known what it meant.

          I've had memory cards die on me before. It happens, it might have been he forgot it, it might have just stopped working. It's worth asking if there's any check that can be done to ascertain what causing the error and at worse inform of if a non critical piece of equipment can be ignored if not functioning as expected.

          Could be human error, could be something else but if it's not worth addressing immediately move on and fix when time allows.

    6. Christian Berger

      Well actually...

      "Well, I suppose we're all thinking that an astronaut should be more than capable of understanding a 'no SD' message."

      One has to consider that those people, particularly during a space walk, want do minimize risks and make sure mission control has an as good as possible idea of what's going on. So it's logical to tell them that the display says "no SD" instead of claiming that there is no SD-card in the device, it's simply more precise. After all this particular device might have an error that makes it display that message even if it's working just fine. So it makes sense to say that the display is showing an error and asking how to proceede, before deeming it non-critial and going on. The wording may have been a bit odd, but spacewalks are stressfull situations.

    7. cray74

      Well, I suppose we're all thinking that an astronaut should be more than capable of understanding a 'no SD' message. On the other hand, a spacewalk is a very high-pressure environment

      It's not just astronauts during EVAs. I'm an engineer working in an aerospace company. This morning three of us, collectively holding seven college degrees (none in IT), stood around a desk telephone trying to figure out why it wasn't working. We got as far as confirming it was plugged in before giving up and putting in an IT maintenance request.

      Everybody has brain farts with technology, especially outside their specialties, but most of us are lucky enough not to be caught on a grand stage like this astronaut.

    8. englishr
      Joke

      @regbadgerer "a spacewalk is a very high-pressure environment"

      Surely it's the very definition of a low-pressure environment?

    9. JeffyPoooh
      Pint

      "...they actually expected a gopro to work in space?"

      RegBagerer commented, "Perhaps more interesting is that they actually expected a gopro to work in space?"

      YouTube seems to be relatively full of videos of various GoPros or similar camera gadgets being flung (rockets) or hoisted (balloons) up to 100,000+ feet, which is about 1% of the usual sea level air pressure. So if it can handle 99% diminishment, then the final 1% to reach the hard vacuum of Space isn't too big a stretch.

      So it's not an unreasonable expectation. Provided that you remember to insert an SD card.

      (I'm assuming that air pressure is the predominant consideration. Temperature might be another, but that's a complicated topic. And it's pretty cold at 50,000 feet. So same observational logic again...)

  4. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    The man is 53, for god's sake!

    How do you expect a geriatric to be able to handle modern consumer toys?

    Spacecraft, now, they are from his generation. he should have no issues with them...

    1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

      Re: The man is 53, for god's sake!

      Ageism? 53 is no age!

      1. 9Rune5 Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: The man is 53, for god's sake!

        I'm 44. Daftness sets in around 39-40. Scientific fact. At least it was a scientific fact back when I was still young and promising.

      2. CrazyOldCatMan

        Re: The man is 53, for god's sake!

        53 is no age!

        ObPedant: 53 most certainly is *an* age. Just not an advanced age..

        (Was going to type "not a great age" which, as far as I'm concerned is true. It really, really hasn't been a great year..)

      3. jake Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: The man is 53, for god's sake!

        Around these parts, the saying is "60 is the new 40". Even doctors are commenting on how much younger "retirement age" folks seem to be compared to thirty years ago ...

        Beer. Can't hurt.

    2. Tomato42

      Re: The man is 53, for god's sake!

      I'm quite sure he's more than able to handle a stupid go-pro.

      Every professional photographer had at one point forgot about an extra SD card (and haven't cleared current one), or forgot a spare battery, left it in the charger...

      For him to find himself outside IIS without an SD card is a fuckup on at least half a dozen different levels, so maybe stop with the ageism?

      also: goPros are more that able to handle harshness of space, they wouldn't be allowed to go outside with them if that wasn't the case; see also: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8HRP-iqHRE

      1. CrazyOldCatMan

        Re: The man is 53, for god's sake!

        For him to find himself outside IIS

        Anyone who has run Windows server would love to be outside/without IIS..

        1. Tomato42

          Re: The man is 53, for god's sake!

          @CrazyOldCatMan I'm sorry officer, it's really inexcusable. Where should I send my space geek card and Kerbal Space Program CD-Key? (would also send Orbiter CD-Key, but it's free, so...)

          1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

            Re: The man is 53, for god's sake!

            Regardless of his age / senility etc. - it's unlikely he expected to have to check out the camera before using it. Would have been just a piece of kit supplied by NASA - while it might be familiar, you wouldn't expect him to check and maintain every bit of crap. He's supposed to use it in accordance with the mission plan. If the plan doesn't say 'check batteries, SD card' then he's got no reason to do that.

            If NASA wanted him to take it outside and take pictures, they should have prepared it to do that. I very much doubt the astronauts have a supply of SD cards for putting in various things.

            Of course, he MIGHT have ignored the instructions, thinking it was just a gopro and he knew how to use it. In which case he's probably not going to survive many more missions. I very much doubt that happened.

            1. Tomato42

              Re: The man is 53, for god's sake!

              > I very much doubt the astronauts have a supply of SD cards for putting in various things.

              Actually, they have quite a few DSLRs on ISS that they can freely use to take pictures in their spare time, so, yes, they do have a supply of SD cards

              1. DiViDeD Silver badge

                Re: The man is 53, for god's sake!

                "yes, they do have a supply of SD cards"

                Yes, but who's going to volunteer to pass one out through the open window?

      2. DiViDeD Silver badge

        Re: The man is 53, for god's sake!

        "Every professional photographer had at one point ......"

        Turned up at a weekend shoot ready to get going with a Canon 30d (wanted to show someone the 30d is a perfectly good piece of kit, despite age and sensor, so left the 6d at home, of course).

        Got a 'Card Full' message after 2 shots, so I decided to format the card - must have some old images on it.

        After the format, available shot count went from 0 to 3. At least I discovered what had happened to that old 64Mb CF card I used to have!

        Of course, I had a bagful of 128Gb SD Xtreme cards with me. Go on, guess how many CF cards I'd packed. Go on, you'll never guess!

    3. Flywheel Silver badge

      Re: The man is 53, for god's sake!

      /S

      There .. fixed it for you.

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        Re: The man is 53, for god's sake!

        wow you touched a few nerves there with the 53 thing!

    4. CrazyOldCatMan

      Re: The man is 53, for god's sake!

      So, he's the same age as me..

      And I've yet to have any consumer-gadget errors. Or even proper-IT type errors like that (except when much, much younger. Deleting a shiny new linux build you've just finished? Been there, done that..)

      Mind you, my brain hasn't been exposed to as many cosmic rays and high-energy particles as his!

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fors sale IT warez, IT warez for sale

    Need a passing IT vendor... Where are they when you need one.

    NO SD's sad. just have to enjoy the moment while you work.

    1. Flywheel Silver badge

      Re: Fors sale IT warez, IT warez for sale

      Doesn't Bezos have a space rocket or two? Priiiiiiiime !

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        Re: Fors sale IT warez, IT warez for sale

        just have to enjoy the moment while you work.

        Its the selfie generation's worst nightmare: In space with camera but no sd!

  6. Teiwaz Silver badge

    An Astronaut, not a Rocket Engineer.

    He wasn't right?

    I know they're mostly trying put scientists up now rather than Top Gun types (argh, that awful movie).

    1. LDS Silver badge

      " Top Gun types (argh, that awful movie)."

      Just re-cut it deleting every scene with an actor - especially Cruise - and just leave the planes. It becomes a nice movie.

      BTW, IIRC the pilot who made the F-14 acrobatics in the movie became an astronaut and was the commander and pilot of the Shuttle in missions like chasing Hubble for repairs.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: " Top Gun types (argh, that awful movie)."

        > Just re-cut it deleting every scene with an actor - especially Cruise - and just leave the planes. It becomes a nice movie.

        NO!

        The value of that film lies precisely on its pure, unadulterated tackiness. If you want to watch some planes prat about the sky, then Les chevaliers du ciel is the (Dassault Aviation sponsored) film you want to see.

        But for every pilot out there, Top Gun is right up there with your ATPL manuals.

        (plus, without it we wouldn't have had Hot Shots. Yes, I've watched those, I liked them, and now I'll leave with what little is left of the reputation I had three sentences ago)

  7. wolfetone Silver badge
    Facepalm

    We can send men to the moon

    But we can't record video on a GoPro without an SD card.

    1. PNGuinn
      FAIL

      Re: We can send men to the moon

      Yup, there's hope for humanity yet.

    2. Sureo

      Re: We can send men to the moon

      Where's George Clooney when you need him?

  8. SkippyBing

    Professionals and IT

    A few years ago now I found myself on-board one of Her Majesty's finest war canoes. At some point early on it was discovered I had a laptop, a copy of Premiere Pro, and enough knowledge to use both to produce videos that weren't terrible. Cue the XO (Executive Officer, second in command) saying every visit to a foreign port should have a briefing video for the ship's company on what to do, where to go, and how to ask for directions back to the ship. These were farmed out to the ship's various junior officers who'd film them and then I'd edit it into something vaguely coherent, and/or moderately amusing.

    Enter the ship's Doctor who proceeded to spend several days filming around the ship with various people providing 'useful' information. Or as I found when I got the camera back, a lot of video of the decks before the camera panned up to cut out just as people started talking. I then had to explain that the little red light meant it was recording, not that it had stopped. Then I made a video out of the few usable bits and a lot of scenes of people's feet with instructions on how to use a camera.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Professionals and IT

      > how to ask for directions back to the ship.

      Normally our Captain would find us two days latter¹ if the police hadn't already dropped us off.

      ¹ Once the Captain had himself been found.

  9. Xpositor

    There are three possible reasons for this:

    1. The camera had no SD card - Doh!

    2. The camera had an SD card, but the GoPro failed in the freezing vacuum - the story does not confirm whether the SD card was actually present or not.

    3. The camera recorded everything, but there were things present that NASA don't want us to know about...

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      If there was an SD card present, I guess he couldn't just whip it out and blow on the contacts!

      ( See 'The Magic Blow', a time-honoured response to a NES (Famicom) console not reading its cartridge. I've read that the Magic Blow procedure is counterproductive, something to do with moisture on the breath, but no doubt people still do it)

      One friend of mine routinely dabs anything electrical with IPA (isopropyl alcohol, not Indian Pale Ale... Though I have known him to use the former to clean the latter off his camera after a spill)

    2. Tomato42

      > 3. The camera recorded everything, but there were things present that NASA don't want us to know about...

      no, there was just static, 18 hours of it

  10. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    If it took me an hour or so to get my walking gear on and get out the door, and the same to get in again, I'd like to think I'd prepare and check my equipment better than that..

  11. jake Silver badge

    I'm not surprised.

    It was so much easier back in the old days.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Here's the chance for Bezos has been waiting for to put one over on Musk ... he needs to fire up one of his rockets for a next-day delivery to the ISS (I assume NASA can afford to buy the Amazon Prime subscription)

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Isn't it strange how your article says "in the video below", and then there's no video.

    It's not a bad idea to try out on of these cameras, but I would expect them to try this before they went in to vacuum. Maybe they did, and that's where the quote came from.

    No video, so we don't know.

    1. Bob Magoo

      Astronaut/NASA forgot the SD card, El Reg forgot the video.

    2. Cuddles Silver badge

      "Isn't it strange how your article says "in the video below", and then there's no video."

      Well of course there isn't, they'd have needed an SD card for that!

  14. Crisp

    Houston, We have a problem.

    We forgot the SD card. It looks like we're going to have to fake all this footage or we'll have nothing for NASA TV!

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    For those little things you forget, when you need them fast

    This is just screaming to be used in a tv advert for certain online retailers who offer (supposedly) same day delivery.

    1. 2+2=5 Silver badge

      Re: For those little things you forget, when you need them fast

      > This is just screaming to be used in a tv advert for certain online retailers who offer (supposedly) same day delivery.

      In space, no one can hear you scream.

  16. DuncanLarge

    PC LOAD LETTER

    I can imagine the astronauts taking the gopro into a field back on terra firma with a baseball bat.

  17. ISYS
    Facepalm

    Venera 14 mission

    This story reminded me of the Russian Venus missions. They had no end of mishaps and problems but the best one was on Venera 14 mission. Part of the mission was to measure the compressability of the Venetian soil using a probe. The rover was fitted with cameras which on previous missions had failed because the lens caps got stuck. On this mission they fitted the lens with a push rod mechanism and it worked perfectly. However the lens cap fell right in front of the rover and the probe then proceeded to measure the compressability of a titanium lens cap.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venera_14

  18. TonyJ Silver badge

    Lost GoPro

    End of the last dive of a weekend of what we think would've been some fabulous footage.

    We'd just been down to around 45m on a submarine wreck in near perfect condition (it'd been purposefully sunk there to test the UK submarine detection system) and in near idyllic dive conditions.

    At the surface, waiting for the dive boat to collect us, I poked my head underwater to see the gopro gently disappearing. Of course I made a grab for it, as you tend to for these sort of things but a) it was by now way too far away and b) a fully inflated wing (buoyancy device) is designed to keep you on the surface so I was going nowhere.

    Shame, that one. :(

  19. T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

    Has it been confirmed...

    ...that he actually forgot to put the SD in?

    Or could it be that the SD was in, but cosmic rays, the freezing cold of the vacuum, the temperature gradients across the GoPro, or something else affected the contacts or the general operation of the camera resulting in the "No SD" message?

  20. _LC_ Silver badge
    Mushroom

    his is the one where they should have left it out

    While I'm all for SD-slots in phones AND cameras, this is the one where they should have left it out or "preloaded" it with a static (glued) SD-card. They can transfer the images via cable.

    Golden rule: minimize the opportunities for errors...

  21. MrKrotos

    Tin hat time!

    Isn’t it obvious? There never was an SDCard in it, can’t let us mortals see the oncoming alien invasion!

  22. Geekpride

    Good learning opportunity

    This could actually be seen as a good thing. An astronaut ended up on a spacewalk with a non-functioning piece of equipment. As it was a non-essential item, there were no real consequences, but I'm sure the procedures will be reviewed to discover how it happened and how to stop it happening again. Might prevent a more serious incident in the future.

  23. TimBiller

    /pedant

    Memory isn't storage.

    Storage isn't memory.

  24. Davisch

    Probably nothing to do with the people reported on

    No need to invoke stress etc to explain things.

    The snippet in the article makes it damn plain that the camera was part of the official profile for the EVA, but wasn't a critical part of the the mission. As such it would have been included in the pre-EVA checklist as something like 'is camera firmly attached to point X on suit' and is it unobstructed.

    The camera should have been prepped (and possibly attached) prior to the astronaut even seeing it for the first time. The next step involving the camera would be: '... and then press button Y to turn on the camera:- report status', which is exactly what happened.

    I'm most impressed that the astronaut didn't at some point say "you wankers sent this up here without an SD card, didn't you? OH FUCK! I'm relying on you to get home".

  25. Morrie Wyatt
    Coat

    I'm probably going to hate myself.

    Andrew, it's only a bloody GoPro. Hardly rocket science.

    Sorry. had to be said.

  26. This post has been deleted by its author

  27. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    My first experience with a GoPro was installing the SD card sold to me with the camera only to find after a bunch of mysterious messages that this particular card was too big for the GoPro. The manual was of minimal help, and reading it made matters no better.

    As for all you armchair astronauts that are second guessing someone on mission and offering advice: You know what you can do, and the same goes for your horses.

    Calling an astronaut stupid says more about your intelligence than the astronauts.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bah!

      Did you try zerofilling it with Winhex/dd/etc then formatting it with the GUI version of fat32format ?

      Worked for me. exFAT and old phone = dismal fail.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Bah!

        $ file Winhex/dd/etc

        Winhex/dd/etc: cannot open `Winhex/dd/etc' (No such file or directory)

        $

  28. vincent himpe

    GOPRO. LOL

    PRO.. get it ?

  29. robsonde

    anyone got a link to the video or audio of this?

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Astronauts

    Are not what they used to be

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