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

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital 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.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid