Astronauts no longer go out into space due to a water leak in a suit

NASA is delaying the next extra vehicle excursions due to a concern about a leak in a suit. Astronaut Matthias Maurer discovered water in his helmet in March.

Wondering when the next spacewalk for astronauts will take place? It may be necessary to be patient before seeing Westerners wandering around the International Space Station (ISS): The US space agency is just about to slow down, following a concern over a suit.

Abnormal traces of water in the helmet

This timing had already been inflated to May 18 by the SpaceNews website, based on comments made during a meeting of NASA’s Advisory Committee on Aviation Safety on May 12. We learned that NASA was temporarily suspending its ISS exits because traces of water level with a helmet had been discovered.

This has just been confirmed to Numerama by NASA. ” No US Segment spacewalks are planned in the near future as part of normal station operations, and a formal review of the team’s results will be conducted before the planned spacewalks resume. said a representative of the board.

“No spacewalk in the US segment is planned in the near future”

This measure applies only to American astronauts, that is, Kjell N. Lindgren, Bob Hines, and Jessica Watkins. It is also the regime to which the Italian Samantha Cristoforetti must submit, working closely with NASA, within the framework of the partnership with the European Space Agency. The last excursion (“EVA”) goes back to March 23rd.

Of course, the instruction from the Westerners does not apply to the three Russians currently present in the ISS, as they are not dependent on the American segment. Sergei Korsakov, Denis Matveïev and Oleg Artemiev therefore always have the opportunity, as cosmonauts, to make their own excursions. They also led the final two, April 18th and 28th.

What happened that made NASA stop like that? The problem goes all the way back to March 23, exactly. At the time, an EVA was powered by the American Raja Chari and the German Matthias Maurer – both were able to perform it, after a trip of almost seven hours – to conduct various maintenance and repair operations optimization on the ISS.

Matthias Maurer, in July 2016. // Source: Matthias Maurer

But after this long excursion, described as ” hit by NASA, ” a thin layer of water was discovered on the inner surface of the helmet and on an absorption pad inside the helmet of astronaut Matthias Maurer “, we are told. These traces were discovered after the reconstruction of the airlock at the end of the mission.

The amount of water found was greater than normal “, NASA adds. It was also a relative source of concern, since “the space station crew accelerated the removal of Maurer’s helmet and then collected data in coordination with ground support teams Matthias Maurer has since returned to Earth with no further problems.

While they wait to learn more, NASA therefore postpones – unless it was clearly necessary to perform a critical EVA for the ISS to function properly. Since the crew on board the station has limited funds to examine the suit, it must be returned to Earth during the next resupply rotation, scheduled for early June.

While events with spacesuits thankfully do not happen on every spacewalk, they do happen from time to time.

In 2013, Italian Luca Parmitano experienced the same problem in his helmet. Ditto in 2016 with the American Timothy Kopra. Other problems may arise, such as in 2021 with an increase in pressure in the suit of Shane Kimbrough, who was out with Thomas Pesquet. Fortunately, no serious incident has been observed so far.


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