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NASA spacewalk called off due to dramatic water leak from astronaut’s spacesuit

NASA astronaut Jeanette Epps (center) is pictured assisting NASA astronauts Mike Barratt (left) and Tracy C. Dyson (right) inside the Quest airlock.
NASA astronaut Jeanette Epps (center) assists NASA astronauts Mike Barratt (left) and Tracy C. Dyson inside the Quest airlock. NASA TV

A spacewalk performed by two NASA astronauts had to be called off early today when one astronaut’s spacesuit experienced a water leak shortly after opening the hatch. Both astronauts are safe and out of their spacesuits inside the International Space Station (ISS), but the water leak was dramatic, with astronaut Tracy Dyson telling mission control: “There’s water everywhere.”

“NASA astronauts Tracy C. Dyson and Mike Barratt are back inside the International Space Station after U.S. Spacewalk 90 ended early Monday due to a water leak in the service and cooling umbilical unit on Dyson’s spacesuit. The crew members were not in any danger as a result of the leak,” NASA wrote in an update.

The spacewalk was intended to run for around six-and-a-half hours, but was ended early after only 31 minutes. Just a few minutes after the hatch of the ISS was opened, Dyson reported the leak, which was spraying water around the airlock.

“This water issue was traced to a water leak in the surface and umbilical cooling unit on NASA astronaut Tracy Dyson’s spacesuit,” NASA commentators explained.  “At no time was the crew in any danger, but they did make the decision to terminate the spacewalk as it was unclear how much water was left in the water tanks of Tracy Dyson’s suit.”

The hatch was then repressurized so that the astronauts could get out of their spacesuits and return to the main section of the space station.

A similar water leak from a spacesuit has occurred before, as during a seven-hour spacewalk from the ISS in 2022, European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Matthias Maurer experienced a leak in his spacesuit that had water pooling inside his helmet. While this was not an emergency situation as only a relatively small amount of water was involved, the water did obstruct around half of his visor. A more serious incident occurred in 2013, when ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano had a scary near-drowning incident when his spacesuit helmet began to fill with significant amounts of water and impacted his breathing.

ESA and NASA astronauts use the same types of spacesuits for ISS spacewalks, called Extravehicular Mobility Units (EMUs), so these incidents were carefully investigated. Agencies like NASA tend to be very cautious with any issues with the suits. NASA says it will now collect more information on the source of the leak before announcing plans for rescheduling the spacewalk.

Georgina Torbet
Georgina is the Digital Trends space writer, covering human space exploration, planetary science, and cosmology. She…
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