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

    Video Obama Remembers Fallen Troops for Memorial Day

    President urges Americans this holiday weekend to 'take a moment and offer a silent word of prayer or public word of thanks' to country's veterans

    Upsurge of Migratory Traffic Across Sahara From West to North Africa

    A report by the International Organization for Migration finds more than 60,000 migrants have transited through the Agadez region of Niger between February and April

    UN Blocks Access to Journalist Advocacy Group

    United Nations has rejected bid from nonprofit journalist advocacy group that wanted 'consultative status,' ranking that would have given them greater access to UN meetings

    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.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora