Water leak in astronaut’s helmet ends spacewalk early

16 Jul 2013

Anchored to a Canadarm2 mobile foot restraint, flight engineer Luca Parmitano works on the International Space Station during a spacewalk on 9 July. Image via NASA

The International Space Station’s flight director has ordered two astronauts to end their six-hour and 15-minute spacewalk early today after one of them discovered water free floating behind his head in his helmet.

About an hour into work outside the orbiting space lab, flight engineer Luca Parmitano reported the leak in his helmet. He first thought it was sweat, AP reported.

Flight engineer Chris Cassidy, who was also taking part in the spacewalk, said it might be water from Parmitano’s drink bag.

When the water eventually got into Parmitano’s eyes, flight director David Korth ordered the two astronauts back inside the station.

The leak in Parmitano’s helmet was so bad, AP reported, that a fellow astronaut had to help him back indoors.

Cassidy began clean-up procedures before retreating back inside the station, as well.

The spacewalk – the second one this month – was to finish the installation of bypass jumpers to provide power redundancy to critical station components, route cables for a new Russian Multipurpose Laboratory Module set to arrive later this year, and complete maintenance and inspection tasks, NASA said.

The cause of the leak is not yet clear.

Tina Costanza was a journalist and sub-editor at Silicon Republic