And you thought you knew what hardware problems are. It’s one thing to install RAM that your system won’t recognize, but it’s quite another to be in outerspace when a glitch happens.

Recently, astronauts Sunita Williams and Akihiko Hoshide were supposed to install a new MBSU (main bus switching unit) on the International Space Station, but while they were on the spacewalk to the affected area, they discovered they couldn’t proceed — the bolts were jammed in place. Apparently there were some metal shavings that were stuck in there. Now this is no small matter; the situation could have hampered the station’s solar energy sources.

They did what needed to be done — they got MacGyver-y all over it. They rooted around inside the station for anything that could help, and came up some with makeshift tools that included a pressurized can of nitrogen gas and an extra toothbrush. That’s right — on one of the most techno-forward environments in the history of man, it was a lowly toothbrush that helped save the day. The astronauts stepped outside again for the spacewalk, and a few hours into it, managed to clear the bolts, lubricate them and install the MBSU. Then, as if to further prove their interstellar handiness, they went ahead and swapped out a glitchy camera out out there too.

Guess there’s just nowhere to hide from mechanical issues, not even outerspace.

By the way, the situation was also noteworthy for another reason: Thanks to that spacewalk, Sunita Williams is now the female astronaut with the most time logged working in the vacuum of outerspace.

[Via Space.comNASA]