I watched the Kimbrough and Whitson's EVA on 01/06.

And I'm wondering why astronauts use custom screwdriver and not the usual ones (like Makita or Dewalt, for example) ?

Is it because of the battery technology ? Rotation speed ? Something else ?

Is there something that makes the usual tools do not work in space ?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Look up "cold welding" for why all "store-bought" tools are right out. Long story short, if you don't want your screwdriver permanently fused with the screw in void, you need special alloys. Now why the fancy shape - let someone else pick that one. $\endgroup$
    – SF.
    Jan 8 '17 at 19:25
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    $\begingroup$ Is cold welding an issue on such short timeframes? (inserting a tool into a screw) $\endgroup$
    – Hobbes
    Jan 8 '17 at 19:37
  • $\begingroup$ @Hobbes: AFAIK it's a matter of pressure, not time - it's nearly instantaneous if the metals come into contact; the roughness of surface in general case makes it very weak on standard touch/press contact (relatively small percentage of surface comes into contact) but more pressure/torque will cause a solid connection. $\endgroup$
    – SF.
    Jan 8 '17 at 19:56
  • $\begingroup$ "Spatial screwdriver" nicely done! :) $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Jan 9 '17 at 11:16
  • $\begingroup$ Do these tools moderate or compensate for the torque that comes back to the user? Wouldn't want an astronaut/cosmonaut spinning around a screw that doesn't want to budge. $\endgroup$
    – Ken Fabian
    Jan 24 '19 at 21:50

The Pistol Grip Tool has some features not found in DIY or even professional cordless drills. It can control its torque and speed exactly, and torque/speed/turn count values can be programmed. It also measures and records the applied torque.

In general, space tools also need to be usable while wearing thick gloves, and they need to work in extreme temperatures and a vacuum, and they need to be tested to make sure they don't interfere with anything.


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