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Astronauts use toothbrush for emergency ISS fix

Posted By GABRIELLE LEVY, UPI.com   |   Sept. 9, 2012 at 10:59 AM   |   Comments

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Sept. 9 (UPI) -- Even in the highest of high-tech operations, sometimes it's the simple tool that does the trick.

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station put an ordinary toothbrush to work to solve a problem with a troublesome bolt on the exterior of the satellite, ABC News reported.

Sunita Williams and Akihido Hoshide were struggling to replace the electrical switching unit on the station's eight-panel solar array systems during an "epic, eight-hour spacewalk." The astronauts were unable to tighten a bolt to secure the unit, forcing them to improvise.

Williams and Hoshide suspected the bolt holes may have been filled with metal shavings, preventing them from tightening, so the astronauts strapped the 220-pound unit down using temporary straps and cast around for a solution.

Using the most ordinary of household items, the astronauts attached a toothbrush to a metal pole and went out for a second space walk. Using a combination of the brush and compressed nitrogen, they were able to clear out the obstruction.

Not only did a little bit of ingenuity save the crew extra work, but the the repair time pushed Williams over the previous record-holder to become the woman with the most time spent on a spacewalk.

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Astronaut Sunita L. Williams, Expedition 14 flight engineer, participates in the mission's third planned session of extravehicular activity (EVA) as construction resumes on the International Space Station. Astronaut Robert L. Curbeam, (out of frame), STS-116 mission specialist, also participated in the 7-hour, 31-minute spacewalk on December 16, 2006. (UPI Photo/NASA).Activity lead Bobak Ferdowsi, who cuts his hair differently for each mission, works inside the Spaceflight Operations Facility for NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover at Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California on August 5, 2012. The Curiosity robot is equipped with a nuclear-powered lab capable of vaporizing rocks and ingesting soil, measuring habitability, and potentially paving the way for human exploration, and was designed to assess whether Mars ever had an environment able to support small life forms called microbes. UPI/Brian van der Brug/pool
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