Toothbrush Provides Quick Fix for International Space Station
It’s not often I get to write about an event that encompasses engineering, space flight, and oral hygiene, but here it is. Earlier this month a pair of astronauts at the International Space Station repaired the station’s power system during a six-hour spacewalk—and had to use a modified toothbrush to do it.
NASA astronaut Sunita Williams and JAXA astronaut Akihiko Hoshide of Japan had previously tried to replace the main bus switching unit during an eight-hour spacewalk on Aug. 30, but were unable to complete the procedure because of a stuck bolt. Since they were literally as far away from a hardware store as you could possibly be, they had to craft some improvised tools using material already on the space station with help from engineers back on Earth.
Among them: a modified toothbrush and some bent wires, which they used to clear debris from the bolt, so they could then lubricate the bolt housing. They were able to complete the installation during their spacewalk on September 5.
You can see a video of part of the operation below: