CAPE CANAVERAL (CBSMiami/AP) – A six-hour spacewalk, scheduled for continued maintenance at the International Space Station, was aborted Tuesday due to a dangerous leak in one of the astronaut’s helmets.
NASA aborted the spacewalk once Luca Parmitano, an Italian astronaut who visited space for the first time last Tuesday, reported once he was back in air that, “It’s a lot of water,” that was getting in his eyes, nose and mouth.
Astronaut Parmitano, 36, along with American veteran astronaut Christopher Cassidy, 43, were scheduled to perform cable work and routine maintenance at the space station, a job they started last Tuesday.
Merely an hour into the job, the spacewalk was canceled, a rare occurrence for NASA, as the leak was so bad, Parmitano asked Cassidy to help him back in.
Parmitano startled everyone when he announced that he felt a lot of water on the back of his head.
At first, he thought it was sweat because of all his exertion on the job. But he was repeatedly assured it was not sweat. Cassidy said it might be water from his drink bag; it looked like a half-liter of water had leaked out.
The water eventually got into Parmitano’s eyes. That’s when NASA ordered the two men back inside. Then the water drenched his nose and mouths, and he had trouble hearing on the radio lines.
Parmitano could not speak because of all the water.
“He looks fine,” Cassidy assured everyone. “He looks miserable. But OK.”
Cassidy quickly cleaned up the work site once Parmitano was back in the air lock.
It was the fastest end to a spacewalk since 2004 when Russian and American spacewalkers were ordered back in by Mission Control outside Moscow because of spacesuit trouble. That spacewalk lasted a mere 14 minutes. Tuesday’s spacewalk lasted one hour and 32 minutes.
This was the second spacewalk for Parmitano, 36, a former test pilot and Italian Air Force officer. He became the first Italian to conduct a spacewalk last Tuesdsay, more than a month after moving into the space station.
Cassidy, 43, a former Navy SEAL, is a veteran spacewalker midway through a six-month station stint.
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