A spacewalk outside the International Space Station has been called off after American astronaut Tim Kopra detected water in his helmet.
This is not the first time water has leaked into an astronaut’s helmet. In July 2013, Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano’s helmet filled with so much water that he felt like a “goldfish in a fishbowl.” Parmitano had to feel his way back to the station after water covered his eyes and he couldn’t see. Five months later, NASA engineers had astronauts add a snorkel to Parmitano’s suit so it could be worn during a critical mission to fix a system that keep the station powered. Last February, astronauts reported yet another leak after a nearly seven-hour spacewalk.
How does water get into a helmet in outer space? Probably from a leaking cooling system. Exposure to direct sunlight, unmediated by an atmosphere, means astronauts are exposed to temperatures of up to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. When ground control asked Kopra to taste the water in his helmet on Friday, he said it tasted cold, which means it’s likely also related to the cooling system, and not just a leaking drink bag.
Between water and high-speed space debris, it’s dangerous being an astronaut these days.