Space Station Astronauts Save the Day with a Toothbrush

Using a makeshift device composed of spare parts, a can of nitrogen and a toothbrush, astronauts reattached a crucial component to the International Space Station.

by / September 7, 2012

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station took a page from MacGyver's book recently. After a crucial component failed and astronauts failed to secure a bolt during an eight-hour spacewalk, astronauts rigged a makeshift device for a second attempt at repair, reported.

On the first attempt, two astronauts tried to replace a power switching component needed for routing electricity from two of the station's eight solar arrays to other systems. The astronauts were unable to secure the component to the station because they suspected one of the two bolt holes was filled with metal shavings, so they tied it down with straps as a temporary fix.

Then, using a toothbrush attached to a makeshift pole and a can of compressed nitrogen, astronauts Sunita Williams and Akihiko Hoshide managed to remove the metal shavings from the hole and properly bolt the component to the station. If the attempt had failed, astronauts would have been required to remove the component and bring it inside the International Space Station for inspection.

Photo: Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Akihiko Hoshide participates in the mission's third session of extravehicular activity. Courtesy of NASA.