How a $2 Toothbrush Saved the ISS and Other Unbelievable Space Hacks

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Astronauts have a long history of solving problems with equipment and material not designed for the task, but, in space travel you usually can’t get the best tool for a job unless you brought it with you, so improvisation is a necessary part of space exploration.

  1. Charles Yuditsky

    Holy hell the entire Skylab program was saved by a Mylar blanket. A magnificent piece of American improvisational engineering if there ever was!

  2. ClippedWings22

    The only life hack video worth watching.

  3. steve shoemaker

    Well said…..Thanks Scott

  4. SFS Atlas

    It’s the way kerbals do it

  5. Michael Bishop

    No mention of all the bodging they did to keep MIR operational?

  6. Maarten Sneep

    And then there is the Mir…

  7. Robert Szasz

    Laser line generator and an ultrasonic mister are my favorite airflow vis tools.

  8. Tom George

    3:37, that would not be the original bits you saw!!!!
    They are/were still in the LEM.

  9. 1555yodude

    i feel like a requirement for astronauts should be to go drive a crappy car on a road trip with no phone

  10. Spurious ECG

    Probably a bad idea to use ACME products in space :D

  11. seph

    the ‘analogue’ space days, is the feeling that the early Alien films represent really well

  12. Bert Blankenstein

    Duct tape, the handyman’s secret weapon.

  13. D. R. Arthur

    $2 Toothbrush with tea leaves? 🤔🔛🤞

  14. stupidstufwtmyfriend

    Cool new intro.

  15. Dave Storey

    Love it… quality episode… 👍

  16. machinegun20

    Scott, I have to say as a Dutch citizen. You are one of the greatest speakers on Youtube, vocabulary Titan!🙏

  17. jmonroe

    STS-51-D is memorable for me because I still have the “Toys In Space” vhs tape I bought at KSC in 1994 shows it.

    I still have the tape. I should get that from my moms house and digitize it.

  18. InnerMostBasics

    Makes me think of JWST. Everything has to work without MacGyvering…

  19. Peeftribos

    cant wait for the benu video scott!!!!

  20. Pockgt

    Hi scott could you do a video on the space debris near-miss pls thanks

  21. Youtube Vanced

    Really sad ending when Watney dies at the end after all that struggle.

  22. Agamemnon

    ‘zero gravity bodging’ also sounds like a cool sport.

  23. Nicholas Weis

    So it sounds like they got this idea from a movie called (mission to mars)!

  24. Mary Devling

    I grew up on a farm and we seldom had what we needed, but I learned to misuse tools and other stuff to get by.

  25. Mike Foote

    Sees shirt. Hey, wait a minute. Checks. Hey! Wait a minute!

  26. Tommy Schnettler

    So thats why theres a broken opinion on the moon rover wheel in ksp

  27. Do NOT

    This was a case of reading the tea leaves in space.

  28. ere

    We need to hide all the 3D printers on ISS so we can hear this kind of story more

  29. Peter Stimpel

    great episode!

  30. pRotz 〉2000kv

    Kool topic, love the vids

  31. Travis Ryno

    I’d love to see a fly try to fly around in space….

  32. daft

    109 likes and 0 dislike, keep it that way

  33. Mark D

    Great Video, thanks for all of the great content Scott!

  34. Darren Krivit

    Survival tip: always have a roll of duct tape nearby🚀

  35. Damon Andrews

    Very interested to hear what you mean by “improvise a spacewalk”. I would assume that (over simplifying of course) they would just suit up, get in the airlock and tether up then hop out. I feel like I’m missing something.

  36. keith Mitchell

    Hey Scott wasn’t the moon rover built by AM general?

  37. Mirek Heikkila

    awe hack the planet, wait no, hack the space something??? !alert recover! <3

  38. Mike

    this video felt like it was 30 seconds long. I NEED MORE

  39. sferrin2

    How about saving an XB-70 Valkyrie with a paperclip?

  40. Cats of Ulthar

    Life lessons for your DnD sessions. Always bring a 10ft pole.

  41. Eric Messer

    I wish I could give this 10 thumbs up! My favorite video of yours – and I’ve liked all of them.

  42. Cheese Lover69

    I find myself being blown away from nearly every one of your videos Scott. Thank you so much for your videos.

  43. Oscar Sorensen

    Finally got a notification for a video!!

  44. Gideon Gilmore Production

    These are great real life hacks!

  45. Jamie Li

    Man, I must have heard the ‘mutiny in space’ story involving Skylab half a dozen times now, but I have never even heard about this amazing EVA on Skylab II until now

  46. Joseph Stevens

    Some times low tech is the best tech…

  47. Rob Sin

    I do this stuff, every day in my shed.🤣🤣🤣🙈🙈🙈🙈

  48. Bruce Baxter

    I would have expected outgassing from tape in a vacuum. Amazing.

  49. Roberto Horn

    This intro to the video is so good!

  50. Matthew Shaw

    I downloaded Salyut 7 to watch a while back, but my dumb ass didn’t realise it would be in Russian. I don’t speak Russian. That was a hell of an experience, but I think I got the main points of the film

  51. Clark Janes

    “those lifehacks on the internet are mostly useless. Now if you’re in a space capsule and this happens….”

  52. Emporer Tivurnis

    Sometimes the best solution to a high tech problem is… What some would call “Primitive” lol

  53. Nahuel Olgiati

    WTF Scott! this is one of the best video i saw from you. Thanks a lot!

  54. Hans

    This is already one of my favorite of your videos to date. Thank you for being a great person.

  55. dumbo7429

    Throwing the mowers broken spring start and wrapping the rope around the remaining pulley…or a socket in electric drill on pulley nut for starting

  56. tyuwec

    Nothing like KSP and Scott Manley in the background.

  57. sofuckingannoying

    Remember how an early Soyuz-Salyut docking got stuck halfway through the mechanical engagement, with no ability to continue and no provisions to back out of the procedure? They were looking at saving the crew at the price of losing the brand-new space station. Then hacking intensified and things worked out in the end.

  58. Conor M

    Would the ISS be up the creek if one of the solar panels got clipped with head on debris?

  59. Ryan Linden

    I must be blind to see the AWESOME Launch platform with Saturn no it.

  60. Oliver Lane

    I’d like to know what bits of kit are carried on each mission designed to be improvised and bodged, or if its always just repurposing items with other functions

  61. Lucid Moses

    That $2 Toothbrush must have been before shipping charges.

  62. Wilderthanthou

    Pete Conrad was the freaking man

  63. marsrover001

    To be fair, that toothbrush cost more than $2 due to the shipping costs.

  64. dumbo7429

    When the going gets rough ….the rough get going..or nessecity is the mother of invention. .or can be a mother.

  65. Samuli Jomppanen

    And this could be counted as one of the reasons why we need manned spaceflight.

  66. Brendan Smith

    Hey Scott, love your videos! Odd question but do you remember where you got that gantry for the Saturn V? I’ll be getting the lego set for xmas and was really hoping to find a nice model launch tower. Keep up the great work and thanks for all the educational videos!!

  67. DarkBlue

    I have been waiting for you to make a video about it. I think the way the leak could be found is ingenious. Thanks for your thoughts and the video!

  68. Imagine A World

    Longer videos man! I miss the vids when youd get nerdy for 20 30 mins then grab a beer and stream kerbal!

  69. Jonathan Grey

    I’ll have to remember these next time I’m on the ISS

  70. VosperCDN

    Sounds like the history of space flight is the history of bodging together solutions to unexpected problems.

  71. TheDrunkenMug

    I can imagine Dave from the EEVBLOG visiting the IIS and him going: “Oh ! We’ve got bodge !!” 😂

  72. Rockspoon

    I hope they have a tube of Shoe Goo on board. That stuff is awesome.

  73. Mike Stromecki

    And then there’s the other end of the hacker spectrum where if there isn’t a X for exactly their situation, then there is just absolutely no way that the task can be accomplished.

    One of my favorite hacked together tools is when a man made a megaphone out of nothing but some string, a squirrel and a megaphone. Crazy.

  74. Chris Sonnenschein

    I have been going about problems all wrong for too many years. Simply Bury the Red Tape in an ample amount of Grey Tape! 😜

  75. bzqp2

    I can swear there was some other famous, sciency-related toothbrush hack, but I can’t seem to remember what that was all about… Can anyone maybe tell me what I’m forgetting???

  76. Mika de Grote

    Ah yes, duck tape the tool to rule them all!

  77. Owen Robertson

    10 foot pole… looks like someones been playing a little dungeons and dragons 3.5

  78. Cost-Plus Content

    Space is hard, until $2 toothbrushes are saving the ISS.

  79. (S)-Riley Dunn

    Last time I was this early, KSP was making a Bob revamp.

  80. Lucas Rossi

    Once I heard a story about random toothpaste boxes being empty and how the company fixed it (these stories change so much that I wonder if it’s actually true, but…):
    It seems some random toothpaste box ended up empty at the consumer, no tube inside. So the company hired a 3rd party to fix the manufacturing problem. They couldn’t figure out why, so they developed a very expensive system that would weigh each box and, if it was deemed empty, it would push it out of the belt. Truckload of money, but problem was fixed.
    One day, the supervisor was walking around the plant and noticed the device was plugged off. When asking the sector employees they said it was slowing down the line with the weighing process, so they just bought a cheap fan and kept it pointed at the belt, if a box was empty it was just blown off of it.

  81. Manuel Lorenzo

    With all the problem solving going on in this video, I was expecting for it to be sponsored by brilliant

  82. Jeff meyer

    I highly recommend the video on making the Apollo 13 filter, Scott I love you, but your wife saved your bottom in the “crafts” department!

  83. Flux

    I clicked on the video without even reading the title. I wasnt deceived

  84. explosivemonkeys

    The handyman’s secret weapon – duct tape.
    -Red Green

  85. Penny Lane

    So they were reading tea leaves to scry the location of the leak?

  86. GrandProtectorDark

    4:50 I do love that the Restock-mod devs had decided to reference that as a special variant for the MH wheel.

  87. Jonathan S

    Bodging has a long and hilarious history.

  88. Natan Getschel

    Or as Tom Scott would say, they bodged together a solution

  89. Chuko Kpolugbo

    It’s a shame there was no mention of the Inanimate Carbon Rod

  90. Yann Landrin-Schweitzer

    That is an ode to standardization and reusing if there is any…
    Also, having a standard toolbox in any space situation.

  91. LolBigFart

    toothbrush: damn

  92. Drake Tamer

    It always amused me that they never thought about making the air scrubbers compatible between service and lunar modules to begin with. In this case, the redundancy of having two separate systems was a bit too redundant.

  93. Valendr0s

    “Greatest Tech Support call” – nah, that’s devops jerry-rigging in production. Straight up heroic.

  94. Hicham Mohsen

    I was just thinking: wouldn’t it be amazing if Scott did a video about space emergencies? And then this drop and i was like: yeah that will do.

  95. Munrais

    Moral: Never run out of duct tape.

  96. Zoltán Pósfai

    This is why you should always make sure to bring your mass effect field toothbrush with you!..

    btw: You don’t need to leave the Earth to fave the need of crazy macgyvering. We constantly did the same in the middle of Siberian winter expeditions while building a neutrino telescope. No tool or resource went untouched.

  97. Nonna YoBeesWax

    “So I’ve been in space, on the end of an arm attached to a Space Shuttle. While I held on to a sattelite.”
    Just imagine the stories he’s got during BBQ’s

  98. temper44

    Astronaut Garrett Reisman had a great story about McGyvering when he was on Joe Rogan. He was tasked with installing an antenna during a spacewalk at the ISS. The metal part didn’t fit, the male side was too big to fit into the female. Reisman used the revolutions around the earth, when the parts were exposed to direct sunlight as a solution. Metal would expand and contract depending on when they were exposed to the sun. By shielding one part from the sun with his gloves during direct sun exposure, it shrank in size and fitted into the opposing side.

  99. LazyLife IFreak

    What was that saying? “There is no more permanent fix, than a temporary one”

  100. Alex Landherr

    “YouTube is full of dumb life hacks.”
    -Scott Manley for the 2020 Quote of the Year.

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