News / Science & Technology

NASA Aborts Spacewalk After Leak in Astronaut's Helmet

In this image from video made available by NASA, astronauts discuss the aborted spacewalk aboard the International Space Station, July 16, 2013. A dangerous water leak in the helmet of Luca Parmitano, bottom center facing camera in white suit, drenched his eyes, nose and mouth, preventing him from hearing or speaking as what should have been a routine spacewalk came to an abrupt end.
In this image from video made available by NASA, astronauts discuss the aborted spacewalk aboard the International Space Station, July 16, 2013. A dangerous water leak in the helmet of Luca Parmitano, bottom center facing camera in white suit, drenched his eyes, nose and mouth, preventing him from hearing or speaking as what should have been a routine spacewalk came to an abrupt end.
Megan McGrath
NASA cut short a spacewalk outside the International Space Station Tuesday after water began building up inside the helmet of an Italian astronaut.
 
Luca Parmitano was conducting his second career spacewalk when he reported feeling water on the back of his head.  As large quantities of liquid collected inside his helmet, NASA called off the spacewalk, and Parmitano, along with fellow astronaut American Christopher Cassidy, made it back into the orbiting outpost after one hour and 32 minutes outside the research lab.  Last week, Parmitano became the first Italian to walk in space.
 
During a news conference to discuss the unexpected events, the U.S. space agency said it initially suspected that Parmitano's drinking water supply might have escaped into his helmet.  NASA, however, said an investigation has ruled out that possibility.
 
"It was definitely a leak in the system," said Karina Eversley, the lead spacewalk officer.  "This was not a normal amount of water," she added.
 
The ISS crew found that between 1 and 1.5 liters of water had flooded throughout Parmitano's suit, although it was concentrated mostly in his helmet.
 
The team is now investigating whether a leak in the suit's cooling system, which contains about four liters of water, could be responsible.  Parmitano reported that the water had a "funny taste," which may help the investigators to pinpoint its source.
 
In zero gravity, water floats freely in large globs, rather than settling in contained spaces.  Astronaut Chris Cassidy visually inspected Parmitano's helmet, and reported that the volume of water seemed to be increasing.  It was at this point that NASA aborted the mission, and Parmitano returned quickly to the ship's airlock, followed by Cassidy.
 
As Parmitano returned to the station, the amount of water increased to the point that it congealed around his ears and face, making it difficult for him to hear, see, and speak. 
 
"You can imagine you're in a fishbowl," said David Korth, a NASA flight director.  "This is not a thing you take lightly. He did a great job of keeping calm and cool."
 
Karina Eversley confirmed that Parmitano may have been at risk of drowning had his suit not been removed quickly, and that this was one of the more serious incidents to occur in the history of spacewalking.
 
Eversley and Korth said that Parmitano has suffered no adverse effects of his suit malfunction, and that he, Cassidy, the rest of the ISS crew and NASA ground control had performed admirably and efficiently under pressure. 
 
"Luca is doing great - he's smiling and happy," said Eversley.

Space Station Spacewalk Ended Early for Malfunction (NASA TV)

You May Like

Afghan Government: Taliban Leader Mullah Omar Died in 2013

President Ashraf Ghani's office confirms reclusive Taliban leader died in 2013, but Taliban itself claim Omar is still alive More

Erdogan in China Amid Tensions on Uighurs, Missile System

Turkey's president has criticized China's heavy-handed policies toward Uighurs in violence-plagued Xinjiang region, where China says it is fighting foreign-backed separatists More

Critics: China’s President Using Law to Tighten Grip on Power

President Xi, who has stressed importance of 'rule of law' and law-based governance, has exerted increasingly tighter grip over society since coming to office More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
July 19, 2013 9:19 PM
Yes, I agree Luca did a good job of keeping calm at an unexpected incident. Funny taste of the liquid means it was not the water to drink. I suppuse measures would be taken to have cooling water more completely separated from helmet by NASA.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponentsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
July 28, 2015 9:53 PM
A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video Special Olympics Athletes Meet International Friends

The Special Olympics are underway in Los Angeles, California, with athletes from 165 countries participating in an event that gives people with intellectual disabilities the chance to take part in an international competition. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that for athletes and their families, it's also an opportunity to make new friends in an international setting.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs