The many uses of an ordinary toothbrush never cease to amaze. Just last week from Cape Canaveral came news that a stubborn bolt on the International Space Station was fixed by two spacewalking astronauts who fashioned a special tool out of a toothbrush!
The spacewalk by NASA Astronaut Sunita Williams and Japan's Akihiko Hoshide was the second in a week to replace a key part of the station's power system. The astronauts successfully removed a faulty 220-pound device known as a "main bus switching unit," but weren't able to bolt a replacement into position. The culprit was metal debris on the bolt that prevented it from properly tightening.
While engineers at NASA considered repair options, the two industrious astronauts came up with their own solutions: a wire brush formed from spare cable, and another brush crafted from an ordinary toothbrush. With their homemade tools in tow, the two astronauts once again left the station's airlock and used the unique brushes to clean the debris from the bolt. After 4-1/2 hours of work with the toothbrush and cable brush, the bolt was fit into place -- and shortly after, power was flowing again to the International Space Station!
The staff of Wilmette Dental recommends always having a toothbrush handy: for regular brushing as well as for repairing space stations! (You never know...)
(Photo courtesy of NASA)