The discovery of water in the helmet of a US astronaut brought an early end to a spacewalk today at the International Space Station, NASA said.
“The crew is in not in any danger whatsoever,” said NASA commentator Rob Navias after astronaut Tim Kopra, 52, reported feeling a glob of water about four hours into the spacewalk.
However, the situation brought back memories of a harrowing incident in 2013 when Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano’s helmet began rapidly filling with water and risked drowning him.
“This is nowhere near as severe as that incident was,” said Navias.
British astronaut Tim Peake, who was embarking on his first ever spacewalk, checked his colleague’s appearance while they were outside the International Space Station and described what he saw as a “film of water.”
Kopra said the glob of liquid was about four inches long and two inches high (10 by five centimetres).
He also said it was cold water, indicating the leak may have come from a cooling loop inside the suit, said Navias.
Kopra had reported a high carbon dioxide reading in his spacesuit earlier in the outing, but felt no symptoms, and mission control decided the alarm was due to a faulty sensor.
Shortly after flight director Royce Renfrew at mission control learned that Kopra was feeling dampness in his helmet, he decided to cut short the spacewalk.
By that time, the team’s main mission—to replace a broken voltage regulator—had already been completed.