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article imageToothbrush key tool in repairs at International Space Station

By Leigh Goessl     Sep 8, 2012 in Science
Recently, astronauts encountered a problem at the International Space Station when they needed to fix a problem with an electrical unit that needed replacing. Using resourcefulness, they were able to make the necessary fix using an ordinary toothbrush.
On Aug. 30, NASA astronaut Sunita Williams and Japanese spaceflier Akihido Hoshide ran into a problem when they needed to make a swap of a switching unit at the International Space Station. They did not have a tool to make the fix when they found a "sticky bolt" on the main bus switching unit (MBSU) prevented them from securing the replacement switching unit.
According to, the astronauts, with the assist of NASA engineers, were able to make the replacement on Sept. 5. To get the job done, it required the use of a toothbrush and unplanned spacewalks.
The duo used the toothbrush, along with a pressurized can of nitrogen gas to clean out metal shavings that were halting repair. Hoshide had described "a lot of metal shavings coming out" as he diligently worked to clean out the blockage.
"Looks like you guys just fixed the station," astronaut Jack Fischer radioed from Mission Control at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, reported several media outlets. "It's been like living on the set of 'Apollo 13' the past few days. NASA does impossible pretty darn well, so congratulations to the whole team."
CBC News reported Mike Suffredini, NASA's space station program manager, said the bolt had probably been damaged before launch during the installation, explaining the presence of the metal shavings.
With the extra spacewalk, Williams set a new record for a female spacewalker.
More about International Space Station, Astronauts, NASA, Akihido Hoshide, Sunita Williams
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