The smallest things in life are sometimes the most important. For instance, astronauts on the International Space Station recently solved a major problem using a $3 toothbrush. They didn’t use the toothbrush to clean their teeth, but instead to clean out a bolt to replace an electrical switching unit during a spacewalk.
ABC News reports that astronauts Sunita Williams & Akihido Hoshide and NASA engineers on Earth came up with the design and mechanics of building a cleaning apparatus using a basic toothbrush and a metal pole. Yes, the same tool you’d use to get a box off an out-of0reach shelf was used in outer space by NASA astronauts. It sounds like something out of the movie Apollo 13 when NASA engineers built a piece of machinery to help the astronauts return to Earth safely.
The International Space Station astronauts cleaned out the bolt, replaced the electrical switching unit, and got back inside the space station safely. It only took them 10 hours, with no lunch or bathroom breaks, to finish the arduous job. Williams later wrote in her blog, “Remember, you are in that suit usually about 8 hours for a 6 hour EVA. To my surprise, the most intense part for this EVA happened to be outside when we encountered our ‘sticky’ bolt.”
After the repairs were completed, Williams and Hoshide went back inside and celebrated their accomplishments. They’ve earned it! If you need a visual of the these events, there’s an episode of The Simpsons that perfectly illustrates a similar situation: