Astronauts Use Toothbrush to Fix International Space Station

Two resourceful astronauts and a few creative NASA engineers back on Earth turned to an unlikely instrument to save the day.

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NASA / AP

NASA astronaut Sunita Williams and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Aki Hoshide (out of frame), both Expedition 32 flight engineers, participate in a session of extravehicular activity Thursday Aug. 30, 2012 to continue outfitting the International Space Station.

When it comes to the care and maintenance of the International Space Station, you’d probably expect astronauts to be armed with an arsenal of expensive, high-tech tools. (And hey: they are.) But faced with a particularly dire situation this week, two resourceful astronauts and a few creative NASA engineers back on Earth turned to an unlikely instrument: a toothbrush.

(PHOTOS: Our Beautiful Planet: Images from Space by an Astronaut Photographer)

During an epic eight-hour spacewalk last week, astronauts Sunita Williams and Akihido Hoshide were tasked with replacing an electrical switching unit bolted to the outside of the station — but their efforts were thwarted, Tecca reports. They determined that the bolt socket was full of metal shavings and needed to be cleaned — something they didn’t have the proper tools for. The pair found a toothbrush and attached it to a metal pole; with that contraption and a can of compressed nitrogen, they were able to clean the bolt’s socket and complete the job.

(WATCH: Yo-yo Tricks in Space Are Out of This World.)

“Looks like you guys just fixed the station,” astronaut Jack Fischer told Williams and Hoshide from the Johnson Space Center, according to NBC News. “It’s been like living on the set of Apollo 13 the past few days. NASA does the impossible pretty darn well, so congratulations to the whole team.”

(PHOTOS: Window on Infinity: Pictures from Space)

Still, it all leaves NewsFeed with one question: how do you brush your teeth in space?

VIDEO: Robot Shakes Hand with Astronaut on International Space Station

18 comments
Navi Radjou
Navi Radjou

Hi: this is great evidence of what Indians calls "jugaad" (or what brazilians call it "jeitinho") -- the ability to improvise a makeshift solution using limited resources. In US, founding fathers like Ben Franklin and recently TV hero McGyver embodied this "frugal ingenuity" but in recent decades, with our obsession with big-buck Ramp;D projects, we lost touch with our ability to "do more with less". It's time to revive the Yankee ingenuity!!! Find out how in our recent book Jugaad Innovation, which showcases how entrepreneurs worldwide - including in the US - are solving big problems using sheer ingenuity! Kudos to Sunita Williams to showing the way!

Navi Radjou

Co-author, Jugaad Innovation: Think Frugal, Be Flexible, Generate Breakthrough Growth

www.jugaadinnovation.com

usnavy83
usnavy83

Was McGyver in one of those suits?

Bradgina
Bradgina

Amongst our weaponry are such diverse elements as:

fear, surprise, ruthless efficiency, an almost fanatical devotion to

the Pope, and a toothbrush attached to a metal pole.

armchrexpert
armchrexpert

Astronaut Jack Fischer  says, "It’s been like living on the set of Apollo 13 the past few days. "

What a slip!  Finally proof that the moon landing was staged! Alert the media!

JeramieH3
JeramieH3

Apollo 13 was staged on a set... in 1995, with Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton, Kevin Bacon, and Ed Harris.

MeJustMe
MeJustMe

Genius is not what you can do with all the right tools, genius is what you can do with what is available. Williams and Hoshide fulfill that definition.

Anwar Barbouti
Anwar Barbouti

Great, maybe we can fix the economy with some floss.

adamrussell
adamrussell

"You used my toothbrush to do what"???

Simps0n
Simps0n

The inanimate carbon rod is getting jealous.

Candicebff
Candicebff

like Daniel replied I'm shocked that some one can get paid $9830 in one month on the network. did you look this(Click on menu Home)

Shams Aci
Shams Aci

Toothbrush!  Amazing and interesting!

Dumitrescu Lucian
Dumitrescu Lucian

I had apply to NASA to become Astronaut Mechanic they say I am not americon and to go to Canada or Brazil, now I hear they fix things around with toothbrush, FUCKN congratulations PALS.

Paul Coyle
Paul Coyle

 What a time for my hometown - Needham, MA.  First, local girl Aly Raisman wins Olympic Gold, and now our hometown Astronaut, Sunita Williams fixes the International Space Station.  Just awesome - Go Needham Rockets!