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Published On: Fri, Sep 7th, 2012

NASA astronauts use toothbrush for space repair

NASA spaceflyer Sunita Williams and Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide spent nearly 6 1/2 hours yesterday outside in the vacuum of space to properly install a pair of bolts that had caused problems for the pair during a previous spacewalk last week.

Spacewalk space station repair with a toothbrush photo/NASA

In addition to their regular spacewalking gear, Williams and Hoshide were armed with some makeshift tools — including an improvised wire cleaner and a toothbrush — to help them get the job done.

On Aug. 30, Williams and Hoshide completed a marathon spacewalk that lasted more than 8 hours, but the astronauts were thwarted by a stubborn bolt and were unable to finish connecting the so-called main bus switching unit (MBSU). The stuck bolt forced NASA to add Wednesday’s extra spacewalk.

But, following last week’s unsuccessful attempt, flight controllers, engineers and veteran spacewalkers worked around the clock at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston to devise a solution to the problem. Using only the supplies available on the space station, the teams came up with creative new tools for Williams and Hoshide to use to install the MBSU.

One was a modified toothbrush that was used to lubricate the inside of the bolt’s housing after debris and metal shavings from inside had been removed. Another improvised instrument included a cleaning tool that had been made from wires that were bent back to form a brush, explained Kieth Johnson, lead spacewalk director at the Johnson Space Center.

“We knew that we had particles down inside the socket, so they came outside with yet another tool that was developed by the ground team,” Johnson told reporters in a post-spacewalk news briefing.

Spacewalker Akihiko Hoshide rides the International Space Station’s robotic arm to a work site on the space station’s backbone-like truss during a spacewalk on Sept. 5, 2012. photo/NASA TV

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About the Author

- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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