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Astronauts repaired ISS with a toothbrush

The ISS. Credit: NASA.

Last week The International Space Station had electrical problems when one of their four Bus Switching Units (MBSU) broke down. A MBSU leads electricity from the eight solar panels, which implied that two of the solar panels could not be used. The problem worsened when a direct switch also broke down, leading to another unusable solar panel.

Carved toothbrush. Credit: NASA.

Following a successful 6 hour, 28 minute spacewalk performed by space walkers Suni Williams and Aki Hoshide. They successfully installed a replacement MBSU after cleaning and lubricating the power relay unit’s bolts and posts.

The spacewalking duo also successfully removed and replaced a camera on the space station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm. A “frozen” bolt prevented the duo from completing these tasks during their spacewalk last week.

The ISS has spare parts but lacked in this case a suitable replacement for the “frozen” bolt that had been scuffed down. However the Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide came up with the brilliant idea to use a toothbrush as a replacement, by first carving it into a suitable shape to fit and replace the bolt.

NASA also points out that all six of the ISS crew can still keep their teeth clean, and that the brush in question was a spare toothbrush.

Below a press conference with NASA regarding this remarkable achievement.

More information and reference:
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/main/index.html

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