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Spacewalkers Finally Fix Power Unit With Toothbrush

Sep 06, 2012 10:34 AM EDT

NASA's Sunita Williams and Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency successfully fixed a sticky bolt and replaced the faulty power unit with a spare unit during an extra spacewalk.

According to NASA, the flight engineers belonging to the Expedition 32 crew aboard the International Space Station (ISS) completed their spacewalk around 1:34 p.m. EDT Wednesday. This was the second spacewalk by Williams and Hoshide in less than a week after their unsuccessful attempt to fix the Main Bus Switching Unit (MBSU) during the last spacewalk.

It just required a toothbrush and some tools made of spare parts to fix the bolts and complete the installation of the MBSU, reported

Thus, a $100 billion space station was given life by a $3 toothbrush. The power unit's bolts had collected lot of debris and no amount of cleaning even by a wirebrush could not shake off the dirt. Finally, the toothbrush was attached to a metal pole and the bolt's socket was cleaned.

"Looks like you guys just fixed the station," quoted astronaut Jack Fischer radioing from Mission Control at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. "It's been like living on the set of Apollo 13 the past few days. NASA does impossible pretty darn well, so congratulations to the whole team," he said.

In an earlier report in natureworldnews, we had mentioned that both Williams and Hoshide spent more than eight hours in spacewalk on Aug. 30, struggling to replace the faulty MBSU on the station's truss, as they were not able to unscrew the sticky bolts.

Some hardware failure caused some issues in the MBSU, which stopped supply of power from two solar arrays on the orbiting complex.  After much struggle, the spacewalkers tied the MBSU temporarily before returning to the ISS after spending more than eight hours in the spacewalk. It was the third longest spacewalk in the history of U.S. spaceflight.

Based on a review by the ISS Mission Management Team reviewed, an extra spacewalk was added to the astronauts' itinerary, following which they were sent again for a spacewalk Wednesday. This time Williams and Hoshide successfully completed the installation of the MBSU.

Besides installing the MBSU, the spacewalkers also installed a camera on the ISS's robotic arm, Canadarm2.  The spacewalk was completed in six hours and 28 minutes. It was Williams's sixth spacewalk, while Hoshide's second spacewalk.

Williams has outdone fellow American astronaut Peggy Annette Whitson with more spacewalk time to complete the six spacewalks. While Whitson completed six spacewalks in 39 hours and 46 minutes, Williams has spent a total of 44 hours and 2 minutes to complete six spacewalks, reported NASA.

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