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Water leak forces emergency end to NASA spacewalk

Luca Parmitano, seen here in this undated photo, was forced to end his spacewalk early due to a water leak in his helmet. Photo: NASA/Luca Parmitano.

Luca Parmitano, seen here in this undated photo, was forced to end his spacewalk early due to a water leak in his helmet. Photo: NASA/Luca Parmitano.


Daniel Martins
Digital Reporter

Tuesday, July 16, 2013, 5:34 PM -

NASA had to cut short a spacewalk Tuesday after a water leak in astronaut Luca Parmitano's helmet left him unable to speak or hear.

The routine cable and maintenance mission was aborted after only an hour and a half. Skip forward to the 6:15 mark in the video below to see the International Space Station crew open the airlock and haul Parmitano inside:

You can see them dab at his head with absorbent towels specifically designed for space.

The water -- which is believed to have come either from Parmitano's helmet drink bag or his suit's water-based cooling system -- clumped to his head in large globs, getting into his eyes and ears.

It was also a very real drowning hazard.

"He looks miserable, but he's OK," Parmitano's spacewalk partner, Christopher Cassidy, reported to Mission Control in Houston.

Parmitano himself seemed to take it in stride, smiling as he interrupted Cassidy's debrief with mission control: "Just so you know, I'm alive and can answer these questions too."

Parmitano later quipped on Twitter that he was "healthy...like a fish!"

This was Parmitano's second venture outside the station. His first, on July 9, was also the first spacewalk by an Italian.

Parmitano -- who regularly posts to Twitter -- posted a highly detailed first-person account of his July 9 adventure on his blog the day before the aborted spacewalk.

It was the second-shortest spacewalk in the station's history, at one hour and 32 minutes.

The shortest was in 2004, when spacesuit troubled forced Russian and American spacewalkers to abort their mission after only 14 minutes.

With files from the Associated Press.

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