Spacewalk aborted after water leaks into astronaut's helmet

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Two astronauts aborted their spacewalk Friday and hurried back into the International Space Station after water leaked into one of the men's helmets in a scary repeat of a near-drowning 2 1/2 years ago.

See Full Article

The trouble cropped up after the astronauts -- including Britain's 1st spacewalker -- successfully restored full power to the space station.

NASA astronaut Timothy Kopra took everyone by surprise when he reported a small water bubble and a few minutes later, a film of water, inside his helmet. Mindful of another spacewalker's close call in 2013, Mission Control terminated the planned six-hour spacewalk at the four-hour mark.

"So far, I'm OK," Kopra assured everyone. Later, he said the water bubble was 4 inches long and getting thicker.

"I'm doing good," he repeated on his way back inside.

Lead flight director Royce Renfrew, who called an early end to the spacewalk, stressed that the situation was not an emergency and insisted neither spacewalker was in danger. Indeed, Kopra took time to thank everyone for their help as the air lock was pressurized.

Almost exactly an hour after he first reported the problem, Kopra was safely back inside his orbiting home, along with Timothy Peake, who attracted his own headlines by becoming Britain's first spacewalker Friday. Both men looked fine.

The astronauts waiting anxiously inside pulled off Kopra's helmet, then measured the water that had leaked, apparently from the cooling loop in the suit. Space station commander Scott Kelly reported that he filled a syringe with about 15 cubic centimetres of water.

That's nothing, NASA officials pointed out, compared with the 1 to 1 1/2litres of water that escaped into Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano's helmet and suit in July 2013.

The cap that Kopra wore on his head, under his helmet, was moist, as were other parts of his suit. As for Peake's suit, a quick look showed it to be dry save for a bit of moisture around the wrists.

Kopra and Peake completed their No. 1 job early on in the spacewalk. The pair quickly removed the voltage regulator that failed two months ago, slashing station power by one-eighth. The breakdown did not disrupt work 250 miles up, but NASA wanted the power grid fixed as soon as possible in case something else failed.

Working in darkness to avoid electrical shock from the solar power system, the astronauts quickly removed the bad unit and popped in a spare, both about the size of a 30-gallon aquarium. They had just 31 minutes to complete the job, the amount of nighttime on that particular swing around the world.

Following tests, Mission Control said the spare -- dubbed Dusty for its 17-year tenure in orbit -- appeared to be working properly.

Engineers suspect the original electronic unit suffered an internal electrical short. In the meantime, the station relied on the seven other power channels.

The action unfolded on the far reaches of the space station. The work site is about 200 feet from the astronauts' exit, about as far as spacewalkers safely can go.

"Glad to see you both out there together on the tip of the world," Mission Control radioed.

Peake, in particular, received a bounty of well wishes -- from space as well as Earth. He became the first spacewalker to wear the Union Jack on the shoulder of his suit.

"We're all watching, no pressure!" Former Beatle Paul McCartney said via Twitter. "Wishing you a happy stroll outdoors in the universe."

Earlier, as Peake floated out, space station commander Scott Kelly called, "Hey Tim, it's really cool seeing that Union Jack go outside. It's explored all over the world. Now it's explored space."

Replied Peake: "It's great to be wearing it, a huge privilege, a proud moment."

Peake, a helicopter pilot chosen by the European Space Agency, is Britain's first official astronaut.

A handful of previous spacewalkers held dual U.S.-English citizenship, but flew as Americans for NASA. The first British citizen to fly in space, chemist Helen Sharman, visited Russia's old Mir space station as part of a private competition in 1991.

Peake and Kopra rocketed into orbit exactly one month ago aboard a Russian spacecraft.

Parmitano -- another European Space Agency astronaut -- came close to drowning when water leaked into his helmet from the cooling system of his undergarment in 2013. NASA added absorbent pads to the helmet and put in place other precautions for future spacewalks. Those pads and safety procedures came in handy Friday.

Parmitano's spacewalking partner that day, NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy, rushed into Mission Control in Houston on Friday and offered assistance.

Cassidy, who's now chief of NASA's astronaut corps, said, at least, everyone now has "a good grasp" of what to heed and what to do. Engineers will scour the data in the weeks ahead to figure out what happened.



Advertisements

Latest Tech & Science News

  • Man says he punched grizzly bear in the nose in B.C.

    Tech & Science CTV News
    QUALICUM BEACH, B.C. - A British Columbia man's beachcombing trip turned into a harrowing fight for survival as a grizzly bear flailed him around "like a puppet." Fifty-seven-year-old Randal Warnock says he had been walking on the beach on Brown Island on B.C. Source
  • 'Mystery' signal from space is solved; it's not aliens

    Tech & Science CTV News
    Astronomers have finally solved the mystery of peculiar signals coming from a nearby star, a story that sparked intense public speculation this week that perhaps, finally, alien life had been found. It hasn't. The signal, which has been formally named "Weird!" was interference from a distant satellite. Source
  • Possible melted fuel seen for first time at Fukushima plant

    Tech & Science CTV News
    TOKYO -- An underwater robot captured images of solidified lava-like rocks Friday inside a damaged reactor at Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, spotting for the first time what is believed to be nuclear fuel that melted six years ago. Source
  • North Atlantic right whale to be examined on N.B. island

    Tech & Science CTV News
    MISCOU ISLAND, N.B. -- Marine mammal experts will examine another North Atlantic right whale today after it was found dead in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The federal Fisheries Department says the necropsy is being conducted near the Miscou Island Lighthouse on the northern tip of Miscou Island, N.B. Source
  • Elephant seals have rhythm and they know how to use it

    Tech & Science CBC News
    New research published in the journal Current Biology finds that elephant seals identify one another by the rhythm in their calls, much the way humans can discern accents and vocal tone. Previously there was no recorded example of a non-human mammal that could remember and recognize a wide range of rhythms. Source
  • Moon dust collected by Neil Armstrong sold for $1.8 million

    Tech & Science CTV News
    NEW YORK -- A bag containing traces of moon dust sold for $1.8 million at an auction on Thursday following a galactic court battle. The collection bag, used by astronaut Neil Armstrong during the first manned mission to the moon in 1969, was sold at a Sotheby’s auction of items related to space voyages. Source
  • Moon dust collected by Neil Armstrong sold for US$1.8 million

    Tech & Science CTV News
    NEW YORK -- A bag containing traces of moon dust sold for $1.8 million at an auction on Thursday following a galactic court battle. The collection bag, used by astronaut Neil Armstrong during the first manned mission to the moon in 1969, was sold at a Sotheby’s auction of items related to space voyages. Source
  • China announces goal to dominate AI field by 2030

    Tech & Science CTV News
    BEIJING -- China’s government has announced a goal of becoming a global leader in artificial intelligence in just over a decade, putting political muscle behind growing investment by Chinese companies in developing self-driving cars and other advances. Source
  • Cops wage psychological warfare against online drug bazaars

    Tech & Science CTV News
    HOUSTON - In an innovative blow to illicit internet commerce, cyberpolice shut down the world's leading "darknet" marketplace - then quietly seized a second bazaar to amass intelligence on illicit drug merchants and buyers. AlphaBay, formerly the internet's largest darknet site, had already gone offline July 5 with the arrest in Thailand of its alleged creator and administrator. Source
  • Alexandre Cazes, suspected founder of Dark Web market AlphaBay, found dead in Thai police custody

    Tech & Science CTV News
    HOUSTON - In an innovative blow to illicit internet commerce, cyberpolice shut down the world's leading "darknet" marketplace - then quietly seized a second bazaar to amass intelligence on illicit drug merchants and buyers. AlphaBay, formerly the internet's largest darknet site, had already gone offline July 5 with the arrest in Thailand of its alleged creator and administrator. Source