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Astronaut With Flooded Helmet Felt Like Goldfish

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(Photo by NASA via Getty Images)

(Photo by NASA via Getty Images)

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CAPE CANAVERAL (CBSMiami/AP) – Italy’s first spacewalking astronaut, after a leak flooded his helmet with water Tuesday while trying to perform maintenance at International Space Station, believes he now knows what it feels like to be a goldfish.

NASA cut Tuesday’s mission short when Luca Parmitano, 36, reported once he was back in air that, “a lot of water,” that was getting in his eyes, nose and mouth.

Two days later he relived the experience, saying it was hard to see and couldn’t hear because the water that was leaking into his helmet eventually formed globs over his eyes and his nose.

“For a couple of minutes there, maybe more than a couple of minutes, I experienced what it’s like to be a goldfish in a fishbowl — from the point of view of the goldfish,” Parmitano said in a TV interview from the International Space Station.

Parmitano said he used his memory to make his way back into the space station. His spacewalking partner, Christopher Cassidy, was a big help.

The 36-year-old Italian Air Force officer said he was “miserable but OK” as Tuesday’s spacewalk came to an abrupt end.

“Imagine walking around with your eyes closed in a fishbowl. Really, that’s what was going on … It’s just a very uncomfortable feeling to be with your face underwater for all that time,” he said.

Parmitano said he was lucky to get back inside so quickly.

NASA managers have said Parmitano could have choked or drowned.

The astronauts as well as engineers in Houston are still trying to figure out what went wrong. Parmitano’s drink bag has been ruled out. The only other possibility is the cooling system for his suit. Parmitano said his long underwear, containing water tubes, appears to be fine.

Parmitano became Italy’s first spacewalker last week. His spacesuit functioned perfectly the first time around. Tuesday’s excursion was a continuation of the maintenance work.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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