News

Spacewalk aborted after astronaut nearly drowns in own suit

Spacewalk aborted after astronaut nearly drowns in own suit

U.S. astronaut Karen Nyberg assists Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano after water began building up inside his helmet during a spacewalk outside the International Space Station, in this still image taken from NASA video July 16, 2013. Photo: Reuters/NASA/Handout

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) – A spacewalk to work on the International Space Station ended abruptly on Tuesday when a water-like liquid started building up inside an Italian astronaut’s helmet, NASA officials said.

U.S. astronaut Chris Cassidy and Italy’s Luca Parmitano were less than an hour into a planned six-hour outing when Parmitano reported what seemed to be water inside his helmet.

“My head is really wet and I have a feeling it’s increasing,” Parmitano radioed to flight controllers in Houston.

Thinking it might be his drink bag leaking, Parmitano drained the bag, but in the weightless environment of space, blobs of liquid continued to collect in his helmet.

“Where’s it coming from?” Parmitano said. “It’s too much. Now it’s in my eyes.”

With the astronaut at risk of choking or drowning, NASA called off the spacewalk just before 9 a.m. EDT.

“It was clear that he was having trouble,” flight director David Korth later told reporters on a conference call.

Preliminary analysis indicates the leak did not stem from the drink bag, leading engineers to focus on the astronaut’s liquid-cooled undergarment as the source.

Engineers estimate about 1- to 1.5 liters of water had collected inside Parmitano’s spacesuit by the time station crew members were able to get to him and take off his helmet.

“In zero gravity, the water pools in a big glob so it doesn’t necessarily go down into the suit and there’s not a lot of absorptive material in the helmet,” said lead spacewalk officer Karina Eversley.

When asked by a reporter if Parmitano could have drowned, Eversley said, “He certainly had that risk today and that’s why we took it so seriously.”

Parmitano, who last week became the first Italian to make a spacewalk, does not seem to be suffering from any ill-effects from the incident, he added.

Analysis is continuing to determine the source of the leak and assess whether the problem is peculiar to the spacesuit Parmitano wore or is part of a wider issue with the suits.

The spacewalk began around 8 a.m. EDT with Cassidy and Parmitano ready to tackle maintenance chores left over from a previous spacewalk on July 9.

Parmitano was setting up an internet cable between the station’s Unity connecting node and the Russian Zarya module when noticed the liquid collecting inside his helmet.

NASA said there was nothing time-critical on the spacewalker’s to-do list, which included work to prepare the station for a Russian research laboratory slated to arrive later this year.

The spacewalk was Cassidy’s sixth and the second for Parmitano.

Recent Headlines

in Entertainment

Today in entertainment history: Oct. 24

jamesbrown

A look back on some of the Hollywood headlines that made history.

in Local Sports

Miller has 31 saves, Canucks beat Blues 4-1

Vancouver Canucks' Henrik Sedin (33), of Sweden, talks with Alexander Edler (23), of Sweden, during a timeout in the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Phoenix Coyotes Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014, in Glendale, Ariz. The Coyotes defeated the Canucks 1-0.

Vancouver snaps 2 game losing skid with win over St. Louis

in Sports

Manning, Sanders lead Broncos past Chargers 35-21

FILE - In this Jan. 12, 2014 file photo, Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning calls an audible at the line of scrimmage against the San Diego Chargers in the second quarter of an NFL divisional playoff football game in Denver. Folks who watched the Broncos' NFL playoff win over the San Diego Chargers on television Sunday couldn't help but notice how often, and loudly, Manning used the code word "Omaha" as he barked signals. Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce president and CEO David Brown said he wants to explore the possibility of hiring Manning, one of the sporting world's top pitchmen, to shoot a promotional ad for Omaha.

Peyton Manning threw 3TD passes - all to Emmanuel Sanders - as the Broncos knocked off the Chargers Thursday Night

in Sports

Steve Nash ruled out for season with back injury

Steve Nash

The Lakers and Nash announced their decision Thursday, less than a week before the start of the 40-year-old Nash's 19th NBA season.

in Local Sports

WWU: Men’s soccer team & volleyball crew victorious

western washington logo generic copy/wwu

Vikings score twice in less than two minutes midway through first half to win for the fifth time in their last six games, improving to 7-6-1 overall and 5-4-1 in GNAC play.