Have you ever wondered how NASA builds and repairs their many exciting and revolutionary pieces of equipment? If you’re a hardware enthusiast who is also very much into space exploration, today is your lucky day. We’re going to be talking about space tools which are far more interesting than anything that you’d find at the local hardware store. And, you’ll finally be able to understand exactly how astronauts are capable of maintaining and fixing their equipment when they’re away from Earth.
Why Does NASA Need to Use Special Tools?
You might think that NASA equipment specialists can just run to the local hardware store to grab some tools in order to do a repair. But this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Keep in mind that in space, things are totally different. Obviously, there’s a bit of an issue with gravity, among other things. So, NASA specialists require specially designed tools so that they can keep their equipment operating properly.
One major issue is mobility. Astronauts have to wear fairly oppressive space suits while they do their job. This means that it’s not easy to use normal tools like hammers and screwdrivers. They need more automated, heavy-duty equipment that can do a lot of the work for them as they simply can’t use their bodies in the ways that they could on Earth.
There are also temperature-related factors that prevent astronauts from being able to use the tools that we’re used to. For instance, certain tools that we use require special types of oil-based lubricants that simply cannot withstand the constantly-changing temperatures that astronauts are exposed to.
It’s also worth noting that space tools have seriously evolved over the years. After each mission, new data is collected that changes the requirements of equipment used in space exploration. And, certain tools simply fail after a mission because the designers lacked the proper insight. Therefore, the world of space tools is constantly evolving, which means that NASA specialists are constantly redeveloping products and dreaming up new ones to make equipment repair and maintenance as seamless as possible.
Different NASA Space Tools: A General Breakdown
These are the most commonly used tools:
Trace Gas Analyzer
The trace gas analyzer is arguably the most important space tool there is as it can save lives. When astronauts make repairs, they have to make sure that no fluids leak as that could be extremely dangerous. For instance, a gas leak could be deadly, especially due to the confined nature of spacecrafts. So, a trace gas analyzer detects any potential fluid leakage such as gas or rocket fuel.
The trace gas analyzer is only a few pounds and it’s very small. It can fit into the pocket on the chest of a spacesuit. This allows an astronaut to quickly take it out when doing on-the-spot repairs.
Safety tethers are crucial because of the lack of gravity in space. They are made from extremely durable materials and keep things in place. Safety tethers are used to keep toolbelts on the bodies of astronauts. This allows astronauts to quickly grab their tools when they need them. Otherwise, they’d float away and be difficult to grab.
Safety tethers are also used during spacewalks to keep astronauts secure. Without them, the astronaut would not be able to control their movement.
Pistol Grip Tool
A pistol grip tool is essentially a multi-functional tool that utilizes a pistol grip. This way, astronauts can use it while wearing the thick gloves that they must put on their hands for protection. It’s known for its incredible speed, accuracy, multi-tasking capabilities and impressive force. It’s used for a variety of purposes, all of them crucial to the maintenance of space equipment.
The robot crane exists so that large objects can be moved with minimum effort. And, in spacecrafts, there are a lot of seriously heavy, large objects that need to be carefully moved around so that astronauts can make quick repairs.
Every Tool Matters
As you can see, space tools come in all different forms, but each one is incredibly important. After all, without the right tools, astronauts can’t be safe while they use their equipment. These tools are all fascinating in their own way. And, as time goes on, we expect to see more incredible innovations coming from NASA in the hardware department.