After incident, NASA announces suspension of spacewalks

NASA has announced that it will temporarily suspend all routine spacewalks from the International Space Station (ISS). The exception will be only for those activities classified as urgent.

According to the American space agency, the decision was made after an incident that occurred on March 23. At the time, European astronaut Matthias Maurer noticed a water leak in his suit after returning from a nearly 7-hour spacewalk. The astronaut reported that a thin layer of water, about 20 centimeters, covered between 30% and 50% of his helmet’s visor.

In spacesuits, water is used in the cooling system, so that astronauts can work comfortably even during sudden temperature changes in space, which can vary between 120ºC and -100ºC.

As pointed out by the website spacethis suspension of spacewalks could last for several months, until NASA engineers identify the cause of the suit leak.

NASA spacesuit problems

Water leaks have been a recurring problem with spacesuits for years. The most serious incident of its kind took place in 2013, when about 1.5 liters of water leaked into the helmet of another European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut, the Italian Luca Parmitano, at the beginning of a spacewalk.

Parmitano had to hurriedly return to the interior of the space station, as the water was covering his eyes, nose and ears, impairing visibility and breathing. “The astronaut’s calm demeanor in front of his water-filled helmet possibly saved his life,” NASA said at the time.

After that 2013 incident, NASA added pads to the back of the helmet to absorb any excess water. In addition, astronauts have come to rely on a kind of straw, to have an unobstructed air supply if necessary.

The spacesuits aboard the ISS are the same ones used since the time of the space shuttle. NASA’s current plan is to use these suits by the year 2028, however, recent incidents like Maurer’s could lead the agency to reduce this lifespan.

About Raju Singh

Raju has an exquisite taste. For him, video games are more than entertainment and he likes to discuss forms and art.

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