Toothbrush bodge used to fix ISS


34 Responses to “Toothbrush bodge used to fix ISS”

  1. macegr says:

    Looks like something that would get you extra time in prison.

  2. fusillijerry says:

    Headline 11/12/12: One astronaut rescued from ISS after suffering severe gingivitis.
    Wait. No vibrating toothbrushes in heaven?

  3. Russell says:

    “A $100 billion space station saved by a simple $3 toothbrush?”

    Uh, no. It’s not like the ISS was going to fall out of the sky.

  4. robuluz says:

    There I fixed it.

  5. Stephen says:

    Its only a bodge if its a half-assed fix.  
    macgyvered yes, bodged no.

  6. This reminds me of the time I taped cotton swabs to chopsticks to grab a contact lens that had fallen down the drain. And yes, I disinfected the hell out of it.

  7. Jonathan says:

    Good find! I’ve been looking for a pic of that tool. Just added this post to my new site .

  8. electricoast says:

    I bet any old-school cosmonauts who heard about this ingenious fix must be thinking, “If they only knew…”.   

    • Dan Hibiki says:

      I can’t find a better picture of it, but if you can make it out the tool the cosmonaut is holding is essentially a stick that helps him press buttons in the Soyuz capsule.
      See, the capsule is designed to be piloted by mission control and the panel was built far enough away that the cosmonauts can’t accidentally press anything and so they have to use a stick to do anything.

      that’s right, they invent the finglonger.

  9. Luca B. says:

    Don’t thank me, thank the rod.

  10. Justin M says:

    How are there this many comments and not a single reference to inanimate carbon rods?

  11. John Smith says:

    I don’t know if this is true because Adam Curry claims that this would be impossible on the No Agenda show. I mean really,  how could a toothbrush clean something?

  12. Rusty says:

    Something tells me that by the time the toothbrush was used this way, it had cost a bit more than $3. Getting things into space is still pretty expensive.

  13. 3William56 says:

    Was it the AE-35 unit that needed repair?

  14. Ah duct tape.. Another glorious win.

    • bcsizemo says:

      That’s what I was thinking…and if that isn’t going to work then there is a good chance that some form of JB Weld would.

    • Paul Renault says:

      This story has gotten way too much press.  I’m a field technician, and I improvise all the time.  In this case, using a toothbrush to clean parts isn’t innovative. For many cases, it’s standard operating procedure.

      The fact that this, to me, oh-so-obvious fix has gotten so much press, and that the astronauts’ idea notion is called a “brainstorm” is a sad testament to just how low we set the bar…

      That’s not duct tape.  Duct tape is silver or gray.   

      When it’s green, it’s ‘gun tape’ – tape that’s used to water-seal the bad-guy-facing ends of guns on ships, so that the salt doesn’t corrode the inside of the barrel.  The shells can fire through the tape with removing it first.

      When it’s black, it’s ‘gaffer tape’.  Gaffers are the electricians (and often lighting people) on movie and theatre sets.  They use black tape so it doesn’t reflect light.

      For every other colour, it’s called ‘book-binding tape’.

  15. futnuh says:

    My friend, brother and I tried (and failed) to build an underwater bubble within which we planned to welcome in the New Year 1999. We spent about 100 man-hours underwater on the task. On more than one occasion, we found ourselves on the ocean floor needing a tool that we’d left “up top”. This would result in an aborted dive, a trip back up, a break to off-gas, refilling of tanks, getting the damn tool, etc. We had a saying, “Everything is harder under water.” No doubt this applies many-fold in space. The entire experience left me with a healthy respect for astronauts.

  16. Stooge says:

    It’s good to see they keep a stock of duct tape, but I can’t understand why the ISS doesn’t have a 3D printing rig. Even without throwing a few tens of millions in NASA R&D at it, the current state of the art seems more than capable of justifying its place up there in terms of mass/volume vs usefulness.

    • TWX says:

      Space exploration rarely adopts new technology quickly.

      On top of that, current 3d printers seem to be gravity-fed, and use small pellets that could be a real PITA to clean up in a microgravity environment if they get loose.

       I don’t blame them for not having a 3d printer yet.  If you read a lot of military SF you’ll find authors including machine shops in their spacecraft when they reach a certain size or mission life cycle, but since we’re not there yet it doesn’t surprise me that we currently lack most semipermanent fab capabilities in space.

  17. Ray Perkins says:

    What were dirt and metal particles doing in the bolt hole in the first place? I would think any hole would be scrupulously cleaned before they sent the thing up there.

  18. Simeon says:

     See also Neil Armstrong using a ballpoint to prod a circuit breaker in order to get off the moon.
    All future missions should include a bodge box of Polycaprolactone (Polymorph/Friendly plastic), some Sugru, duct tape and super glue.You know, just in case!

  19. Dan Deezy says:

    Can we talk about the toothbrush itself? It looks like something they’d give away at a free dental clinic…

  20. Atomische says:

    $3 !!

    I just bought a 5-pack of toothbrushes for $3

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