Washington, Jan 16 (IANS) The US space agency terminated a spacewalk outside the International Space Station (ISS) owing to a spacesuit malfunction where a US astronaut reported a small water bubble had formed inside his helmet.
Originally scheduled for six-and-a-half-hour to switch out an electrical component in the ISS’ solar power system, the spacewalk was curtailed to four-hour-and-43-minutes on Friday after NASA’s Timothy Kopra reported the malfunction, the US space agency said in a statement.
Still, Kopra and Tim Peake from and the European Space Agency (ESA) completed the spacewalk where they replaced a failed voltage regulator that caused a loss of power to one of the International Space Station’s (ISS) eight power channels last November.
The pair ended the spacewalk with the repressurisation of the US Quest airlock.
“These procedures did their job, the team did their job and we flowed right into a nice, safe return into the airlock for these guys,” said NASA’s chief astronaut Chris Cassidy.
Commander Scott Kelly assisted the crew members with an expedited removal of their spacesuits and helmets.
Once they removed the spacesuits and helmets, the astronauts used a syringe to take a water sample and retrieve the helmet absorption pad to determine how much water was introduced.
Engineers are already looking at data to find what may have prompted the water to form inside Kopra’s helmet.
The crew, however, was never in any danger and returned to the airlock in an orderly fashion within 15 minutes.
It was the 192nd spacewalk in support of assembly and maintenance of the orbiting laboratory.
The teams will continue to look over data collected during the spacewalk and discuss forward plans in the days to come.
In 2013, Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano experienced a severe water leak that caused one of the scariest close calls in the spacewalk history.
The leak in Parmitano’s helmet was so severe that floating water had covered his eyes, ears, nose and part of his mouth.