Sunita Williams uses $3 toothbrush, saves NASA's $100bn space station!
A simple USD 3 toothbrush designed by Indian-American astronaut Sunita Williams and her Japanese colleague has saved the USD 100 billion International Space Station, after they used the tool to replace a key power unit.
The decision to use the toothbrush to clean a bolt that gave Williams and Akihiko Hoshide so much trouble during a marathon 8-hour spacewalk last week, was made during a brainstorming session between the astronauts and NASA engineers on the ground.
They were trying to replace an electrical switching unit, but they couldn't bolt it to the outside of the station, the 'NBC News.Com' reported.
This was actually an extra spacewalk tacked onto their mission after the stuck space station bolt prevented the astronauts from properly installing the power unit 'MBSUs' on the outpost's backbone-like truss on August 30.
The International Space Station has four 100-kilogram MBSUs that harness power from the outpost's solar arrays and distribute it throughout the orbiting complex.
The station had been unable to relay power from two of the eight solar arrays on the massive orbiting complex without the use of one unit.
"Looks like you guys just fixed the station," astronaut Jack Fischer radioed from Mission Control at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.
At the beginning of the spacewalk, Williams and Hoshide removed the MBSU from where it had been temporarily tied down with a tether last week.
The spacewalkers undid the bolts, examined them for possible damage, and inspected the corresponding receptacles on the MBSU for debris that was suspected to be inside.
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