American astronaut Sunita Williams sets a record in the process
In a move that would make famed TV improviser MacGyver proud, astronauts onboard the International Space Station (ISS) managed to replace a crucial component with the help of an ordinary toothbrush and some spare parts. Members of the station's current crew came up with the fix after initially failing to get a bolt secured during an epic eight-hour spacewalk last week.
Two astronauts had been trying to replace a power switching component necessary for routing electricity from two of the station's eight solar arrays to various systems. Unable to secure it to the station, they were forced to tie it down using temporary straps. Believing that one of the two bolt holes on the part was probably filled with metal shavings, they looked for a solution and landed on a toothbrush attached to a makeshift pole and a can of compressed nitrogen.
During a second spacewalk, astronauts Sunita Williams and Akihiko Hoshide were able to remove the obstructing filings using a combination of the brush and nitrogen before finally bolting the 220-pound component onto the station securely. If they'd failed a second time, they would have needed to remove the part and bring it inside the ISS for inspection.
Williams became the record holder the for most time spent spent on a spacewalk by a female astronaut during the second repair session. She topped Peggy Whitson, a previous tenant of the ISS who became its first female commander in 2007.
[Image credit: NASA]
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