How Astronauts Repair Broken Systems in Space2 min read

Fixing a broken system in space is different than doing so while on Earth. There are lots of different things that need to be taken into account in order to get the job done right. Here are some of the skills that astronauts need to use when they’re making a repair.

Specialized Toolsets

The bulky suits that astronauts have to wear while outside of the ship means that new tools needed to be developed. These tools are specialized so that they can be handled even with a lack of dexterity being an issue. The tools also need to be attached to the spacesuits so that they don’t float off into space. They are powered in such a way as to continue operating even at subzero temperatures, and often made specifically for certain tasks, like tightening bolts and removing batteries.

Planned Fail Safes

A whole lot of planning needs to go into every repair. Even the simplest repair needs to be carefully planned out so that all variables are taken into account. One wrong move can mean that the astronaut will have to abort the repair or an accident could occur while they are trying to complete it. Much of the planning for repairs occurs before the astronauts ever leave the planet. The right crew, tools, and parts need to be packed in order to get the job done, so all contingencies and repairs have to be thought about and planned in advance.

Spare Part Collections

Many of the parts that are needed to make simple repairs on a spaceship need to be versatile. For example, an AC system installation may require the right type of hosing and tape in their spare parts collection to make the repair hold until they can return to Earth. Another thing to consider is the interchangeability of parts. Astronauts want to be able to make any type of repair that’s necessary while they are in space. This means that they need to be able to use their spare parts for most of your systems. Because of this, many systems are made to have similar parts and casings.

Advanced Training Techniques

Training is another key component of how astronauts are able to make repairs to systems in space. Having the ability to improvise is another part of being able to make any type of repair that may become necessary. Being in space often means that one’s options are limited in terms of their ability to only work with the items that are available. Training and a core knowledge base of how all of the systems operate becomes essential.

Repairing broken systems in space requires a lot of know-how and having the right set of tools. Consider these ways that make a space repair different than a similar repair on the ground.


Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most her time hiking, biking and gardening. For more information contact Brooke via Twitter @BrookeChaplan.

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