News Ticker

NASA halts risky ISS spacewalk, cites drowning astronaut spacesuit ‘flaw’

The U.S. space agency NASA has halted its mission to fix the International Space Station, citing revelations of water again entering the astronaut’s suit.

Expedition 38 Flight Engineer Rick Mastracchio and fellow astronaut Michael Hopkins were forced to cut short their space mission to repair a ventilation system on the ISS. The mission was originally slated to last five hours and 28 minutes. The three emergency spacewalks are planned for December 21, 23 and 25 in order to fix a broken cooling system at the orbiting outpost.

The spacewalk ended short of its anticipated six-and-a-half-hour time frame when Mastracchio, the lead spacewalker, began complaining about chilly temperatures in his space suit. It was later discovered that the suit had evidence of water.

According to the space agency, the astronaut conducting the spacewalk to fix the issue experienced water in his spacesuit, although it still remains unclear whether the issue is related to an earlier incident in which an astronaut nearly drowned. In a statement released over the weekend, NASA says early indication seem to show the incidents are not related, although additional research is necessary.

“During repressurization of the station’s airlock following the spacewalk, a spacesuit configuration issue put the suit Mastracchio was wearing in question for the next excursion — specifically whether water entered into the suit’s sublimator inside the airlock,” NASA said in a statement. “This issue is not related to the spacesuit water leak that was seen during a July spacewalk.”

The incident could prompt NASA to speed up implementation of a new generation spacesuit. The space agency says aging technology and equipment is largely to blame for the latest incident.

An investigation into the cause of the leak that flooded Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano’s helmet and forced him to rush back inside the station in July is still ongoing, NASA officials told reporters Wednesday.