Space Station Spacewalk Cut Short by Space Suit Water Leak


U.S. and European astronauts suspended their spacewalk outside the International Space Station on Tuesday, after water leaked into the space suit helmet worn by Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano.


European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano, lower left, speaks with Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin and NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg, following early end to Tuesday's spacewalk. Photo Credit: NASA TV

Water began to pour over the back of Parmitano’s head and into his eyes, nose and mouth,  as he re-entered the station’s U.S. Quest airlock at 9:15 a.m., EDT, or at the 1 hour, 18 minute mark, to end his spacewalk activities.

The tasks for an excursion scheduled to last just over six hours were not considered critical and will be re-scheduled, according to NASA.

“Neither astronaut was in serious danger,” according to a space agency spokesman.

Parmitano was paired with lead NASA spacewalker Chris Cassidy for a follow on spacewalk to their successful July 9 outing.

Tuesday’s spacewalk got underway at 7:57 a.m., EDT. It concluded at 9:29 a.m. EDT.

By 8:43 a.m., Parmitano was reporting a water buildup in the back of his helmet. The source, possible a space suit drink bag or the space suit cooling system, was unclear.

“It feels like a lot of water. I don’t know where it’s coming from,” reported Parmitano, who tried to sip it away.

“It’s a lot of water,” reported Cassidy, as he joined his colleague at the intersection of the station’s U. S. and Russian segments. “It’s in his eyes, as well as his nose and mouth.”

During the spacewalk, the two men planned to extend an Ethernet cable from the U.S. to the Russian segment of the station to support the arrival of Russia’s Nauka Multipurpose Laboratory Module later this year.

Cassidy managed to complete external power cable re-configurations that will provide a second source of electricity to an assortment of critical systems, including control moment gyros, thermal control and Ku communications links, in response to external component failures.

The alteration will enable astronauts to re-route power to critical systems from inside the station rather than interrupt other activities to prepare for a spacewalk. Cassidy began the reconfiguration on July 9.

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