When you’re doing any kind of maintenance, there’s usually some sort of complication. It’s just that when you’re changing your spark plugs, you’re not floating in the vast emptiness of space and you don’t have to worry about floating off to your death in the process. That’s the difference between a car and a $100 billion dollar space station. Astronauts Sunita Williams and Akihiko Hoshide had removed a malfunctioning component of the space station’s power supply, and had gotten the new 220 pound part into place, but couldn’t get it bolted down. Compressed nitrogen wouldn’t work to clean the post, and neither would any of NASA’s traditional tool belt, so Williams and Hoshide got creative: turns out, a toothbrush was the magical ingredient needed to put a bolt into place on the International Space Station (ISS).
“My left hand just fell asleep because my fingers were crossed too long. We’re holding our breath,” admitted Jack Fischer, one of the astronauts working in Mission Control at the Johnson Space Center in Houston during the space walk. ”That is a little slice of awesome pie.”
The two astronauts were on their space walk for 6 1/2 hours, with the repair efforts taking up 4 1/2 hours of that. The two astronauts were changing out the main bus switching unit, an important part of the power supply of the ISS that routes power from two of the eight solar arrays to the station itself. The ISS has been in orbit and in use for nearly 12 years, which is the longest any space station has been in continuous use. Like anything else, sometimes you’ve got to do maintenance.
In the process of her six space walks, Sunita Williams set a record for time spent on spacewalks for a female astronaut.
Tags: toothbrush used to fix space station, international space station, toothbrush used to fix international space station, toothbrush used as tool, unusual tools, international space station repaired with toothbrush, nasa, space, space exploration, space walk, main bus switching unit, power supply, Sunita Williams, Akihiko Hoshide, Jack Fischer, Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas, NASA, National Aeronautics and Space Administration