The International Space Station, the scene of today's aborted spacewalk
The International Space Station unwillingly took a page from James Cameron's The Abyss today when a spacewalk was aborted suddenly today due to water build-up inside an astronaut's helmet. Two astronauts from the current Expedition 36, American astronaut Chris Cassidy and Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano, were involved in what was supposed to be a six-hour spacewalk performing routine maintenance.
However, less than an hour into the spacewalk outside the ISS, Parmitano, a former test pilot for the Italian Air Force and Italy's first spacewalking astronaut, started noticing water appearing in his helmet. His hair felt wet, and water was increasing. After much discussion, NASA Mission Control at the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston called for the spacewalk to be aborted. By this point, approximately a quart of water had leaked inside the astronaut's helmet. Taking every precaution, the ISS spacewalkers packed up their things quickly, and returned to airlock. Cassidy kept close to Parmitano after they re-entered the airlock, for the latter was having hearing problems due to the water build up. The cause of the leak remains unknown.
The spacewalk was the second in eight days, and was Parmitano's second. The previous spacewalk, on July 9, was performing routine maintenance. In addition, cabling was laid on both the American and Russian sides of the ISS, in preparation for the launch and installation of the Nauka Multipurpose Laboratory Module later this year. The oft-delayed module, to be installed on the Russian side, would the last module of the ISS, and would complete its construction after initially launching 15 years ago.