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Water leak in astronaut helmet, spacewalk aborted

Cape Canaveral, July 17 (): The spacewalk outside the International Space Station was aborted an hour after it began because of a dangerous water leak inside a spacewalker’s helmet. The two astronauts on the spacewalk were Chris Cassidy from NASA and Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano.  It was to be Cassidy’s sixth spacewalk and Parmitano’s second and he is the first Italian astronaut to walk in space.

The supposed spacewalk to be of 6-7 hour duration lasted only 1 hour and 32 minutes after the leak occurred. Parmitano, Italy’s first spacewalker complained that his helmet was filling with water, and the liquid was getting into his nose and eyes. The water drenched his nose and mouth, and he had trouble hearing on the radio lines.  He apparently could not hear questions about his condition.

He requested his spacewalking partner, Christopher Cassidy, for help getting back inside the ISS. He was rushed back into the space station Quest airlock. U.S. astronaut Karen Nyberg and two Russian cosmonauts Pavel Vinogradov and Fyodor Yutchikhin removed Parmitano’s helmet and used towel to soak up water blobs that floated from the helmet.

Parmitano initially thought it was sweat because of all his exertion on the job.  Christopher Cassidy said it might be water from his drink bag, adding it looked half a litre empty. However, Cassidy assured Mission Control in Houston said, “He looks miserable. But OK.”

NASA Mission Control decided to end the spacewalk and NASA Astronauts official tweeted Parmitano is “doing well” and smiling. Chris Cassidy told NASA mission control in Houston “Luca says the water tasted really funny; to him the water clearly did not taste like our normal drinking water.”

Parmitano blogged “My eyes started burning as if I had rubbed them with soap and they became very watery. At first, I didn’t understand what’s going on: tears were pouring out of my eyes and it stung so much that I can’t keep them open.”

This was the astronauts’ second spacewalk in eight days.