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Years of NASA Helmet’s Filling Up With Water During Space Walks

There is scant explanation from NASA on what exactly is causing the water to build up in helmets during space walks.

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“About half an hour into the EVA [spacewalk], 45 minutes maybe, Chris and I were ahead on our tasks so we were starting our third task and I felt some water on the back of my head,” Parmitano said in a video after the incident. “I realized that it was cold water, it was not a normal feeling, so I told ground [control].”

Parmitano’s helmet started to fill up with water just after venturing outside of the space station on July 16, 2013. The water reportedly filled his eyes, ears, nose and part of his mouth, making it difficult to breathe.

The spacewalk was expected to last approximately 6.5 hours, but Mission Controllers aborted the space excursion after one hour. Parmitano and the rest of the crew found that about 1.5 liters of water in the space helmet.

“EV2’s [Luca’s] calm demeanor in the face of his helmet filling with water possibly saved his life,” members of the Mishap Investigation Board wrote in their report.

“I started going back to the airlock and the water kept trickling,” Parmitano said. “It completely covered my eyes and my nose. It was really hard to see. I couldn’t hear anything. It was really hard to communicate. I went back using just memory, basically going back to the airlock until I found it.”

European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano on a spacewalk July 9, 2013 during Expedition 36. Here, Parmitano is riding the end of the robotic Canadarm2. Credit: NASA

On May 17, 2022 CBS News reported:

There have been no serious instances of water intrusion since Parmitano’s spacewalk, but at the end of the most recent EVA on March 23, astronaut Kayla Barron, helping German astronaut Matthias Maurer out of his spacesuit, found water inside the helmet.

“It’s a little bit difficult to judge the volume because it’s spread across the front of his visor,” Barron said. “But I think we should accelerate the steps to get him out of his suit here.”

Once the helmet was off, the crew estimated up to 50 percent of the visor was coated with a thin film of water and that the absorption pad at the back of the helmet was damp.

“The HAP is a little bit moist, but I think it would have been difficult to detect through a comm(unication) cap,” Barron reported. “Roughly, maybe an eight- to 10-inch diameter circle, a thin film of water on the helmet. And there is water in his vent port at the back of his neck ring.”

There is scant explanation from NASA about what exactly is causing the water to build up during space walks, but clearly it’s an issue NASA has yet to resolve. while the suits are 35 years old, NASA insist there are no aging problem’s that have been detected.

Oddly enough before astronauts can be sent up to space, first they experience living inside a giant pool.

In a windowless building in Houston, the pool sits inside the grounds of NASA’s Johnson Space Center. It is reportedly 40 feet deep, and holds enough water to fill several Olympic-size pools. Beneath the surface is a replica of the International Space Station.

Named the The Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory, this is where future astronauts train for spacewalks outside the International Space Station. It’s strange the space suits would work in this giant swimming pool filled with water pressure, but fail to remain water proof in space.

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