Aerospace Manufacturer’s Connection to “Gravity”

A shop that manufactured a special cordless drill successfully used by NASA to service the Hubble Space Telescope saw that tool used again in the recent movie "Gravity."


Egon Jaeggin’s attention wasn’t always on the acting when he and his wife went to see the film, Gravity. During certain crucial scenes, he says he thought the star of the show was the pistol-grip cordless drill being used by Sandra Bullock’s character. Mr. Jaeggin’s shop, Numerical Precision, built that tool for NASA in 2009.

The tool was designed for that year’s mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope. According to Mr. Jaeggin, the “Mini Power Tool” incorporates an extra-large trigger, thumb release and “wrist kickout” to stabilize the tool in one hand. “Performing a Hubble upgrade is like opening a computer and replacing a board while wearing thick gloves and a fishbowl over your head,” he says. Along with the awkwardness, tight quarters and time restrictions faced by the astronauts, NASA’s design of the tool also had to consider temperature swings of 500 degrees from direct sun to “frigid shade,” as well as the potential peril to the telescope if a fastener got loose and found its way in.

While it was fun to see the tool in the movie, what was truly gratifying was to see the tool used successfully in television feeds of the 2009 Hubble mission, he says.  

The shop machined components and performed the assembly for seven of these power tools, six of which went to NASA. The seventh is displayed in Numerical Precision’s lobby.

Photo courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures.