Dangerous Water Leak In Astronaut's Helmet2 min read

A spacewalk to carry out maintenance work is aborted after water drenched Luca Parmitano‘s eyes, nose and mouth.

An astronaut has been forced to abort a spacewalk after water started leaking into his helmet, drenching his eyes, nose and mouth.

Italian Luca Parmitano was less than an hour into a planned six-hour outing on the International Space Station when he reported the liquid building up inside his headgear and the dangerous problem was getting worse.

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Mr Parmitano, 36, told flight controllers in Houston: “My head is really wet and I have a feeling it’s increasing.”

At first, he thought it was sweat because of his exertion on the job, but he was repeatedly assured that was not the case.

His US colleague Christopher Cassidy, who was also taking part in the spacewalk to perform cable work and other routine maintenance, said it might be water from his drink bag.

It looked like a half-litre of water had leaked out and the water eventually got into Mr Parmitano’s eyes. That was when Nasa ordered the two men inside.

Mr Cassidy, a former Navy SEAL, helped him back into the station’s airlock. The water was drenching his nose and mouth, and he had trouble hearing radio contact.

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The American astronaut, who is a veteran spacewalker midway through a six-month stint on the station, quickly ran through check lists, packed up equipment and also went back in.

He said: “It’s a lot of water. It’s saturated and in his eyes and mouth.”

Mr Parmitano, who works for the European Space Agency, could no longer use his suit’s communications system.

Mr Cassidy kept a close eye on his partner while the chamber was re-pressurised.

Crew members then removed the Italian’s helmet.

“You can see some of the water floating away that had built up inside Luca’s helmet,” a commentator said as live images were broadcast on Nasa TV.

Mr Cassidy, 43, added: “He looks miserable, but OK.”

The cause of the leak was not immediately clear.

It was the second spacewalk for Mr Parmitano, an ex-test pilot and air force officer.

Last Tuesday, he became the first Italian to conduct a spacewalk, more than a month after moving into the space station.

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Sebastien Clarke
Sebastien Clarke

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