NASA Able to Resume Spacewalks After Water Leak Investigation


ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut and Expedition 66 Flight Engineer Matthias Maurer points the camera toward himself and takes a "space-selfie" during a six-hour and 54-minute spacewalk to install thermal gear and electronic components on the International Space Station.

ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer took this area selfie throughout a spacewalk outdoors the ISS in March.
Photograph: NASA

NASA astronauts are on the point of spacewalk as soon as once more. The area company put a maintain on the extravehicular actions whereas it investigated a doubtlessly life-threatening downside with the fits, however NASA says spacewalks outdoors the Worldwide House Station can resume.

On Tuesday, NASA introduced that it accomplished an investigation into the reason for a moisture layer constructing up contained in the helmets of astronauts throughout spacewalks. The flight readiness assessment confirmed that there have been no {hardware} failures inside the spacesuits, and that the “trigger for the water within the helmet was possible resulting from built-in system efficiency the place a number of variables similar to crew exertion and crew cooling settings led to the technology of comparatively bigger than regular quantities of condensation inside the system,” NASA defined.

Upon the implementation of a number of fixes, NASA scheduled three upcoming spacewalks to complete photo voltaic array installations outdoors the ISS. The primary of the three spacewalks will happen round mid-November, in keeping with NASA.

The final spacewalk earlier than the pause happened on March 23, when European House Company astronaut Matthias Maurer observed some water inside his visor. The astronaut took images for the bottom management staff to investigate, however the area company mentioned the problem posed no risk to Maurer’s life on the time. Maurer and NASA astronaut Raja Chari have been in a position to end their seven-hour spacewalk outdoors the orbiting station, making ready the set up of the iROSA photo voltaic array.

NASA later declared the incident as a “close-call” and instantly halted all upcoming spacewalks till the problem was investigated. The spacesuit Maurer wore on the time was returned to Earth, together with water samples, for evaluation. “Throughout the investigation, the area station staff accomplished an in depth take a look at, teardown, and analysis of the water samples and swimsuit {hardware} to find out what led to the noticed water, which was greater than regular, within the helmet,” NASA wrote within the assertion.

Based mostly on its findings, the staff up to date operational procedures and arrange new mitigation {hardware} to keep away from water increase contained in the helmet, in addition to the absorption of any water that will leak in.

The most recent incident wasn’t the primary time astronauts found water inside their helmets whereas performing upkeep work outdoors the ISS. Again in 2013, ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano observed a water leak inside his helmet that compelled an early wrap-up to the spacewalk. Parmitano was in a position to re-enter the ISS airlock safely, however he had been having problem respiration as 1.5 liters of water had fashioned inside his helmet.

The identical spacesuit was utilized by one other astronaut two years later—and it almost drowned him in area. After finishing a spacewalk, NASA astronaut Terry Virts observed free-floating droplets of water and a humid absorption pad in his helmet.

The spacesuits being donned by astronauts on board the ISS are greater than 40 years previous, and solely 18 usable spacesuits are on the orbiting area station at the moment, in keeping with a 2017 report.

NASA started growing new spacesuits in 2019 for astronauts to put on outdoors the ISS and for the company’s upcoming Artemis missions to the Moon, however funding shortages have delayed the fits’ deployment. As a substitute, the area company not too long ago partnered with two non-public U.S. firms, Axiom House and Collins Aerospace, to develop its subsequent technology spacesuits. Nonetheless, the brand new spacesuits gained’t be prepared earlier than 2025. Within the meantime, astronauts will likely be compelled to don the identical spacesuits and maybe be on the lookout for water droplets inside their helmets.

Extra: Russian Cosmonaut Compelled to Abandon Spacewalk Because of Spacesuit Energy Malfunction

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