NASA aborts spacewalk after water leak drenches Italian astronaut

Tuesday - 7/16/2013, 2:18pm EDT

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) -- An Italian astronaut has escaped a dangerous problem on a spacewalk outside the International Space Station.

About an hour into the spacewalk today, Luca Parmitano reported "a lot of water" leaking into his helmet, drenching his eyes, nose and mouth to the point that he could no longer talk.

His spacewalking partner, American Christopher Cassidy, helped Parmitano back inside, where crewmates quickly yanked off his helmet.

It was the fastest end to a spacewalk since 2004, when Russian and American spacewalkers were ordered back in by Mission Control outside Moscow because of spacesuit trouble. That spacewalk lasted 14 minutes. Today's lasted one hour and 32 minutes.

NASA engineers are trying to determine the source of the leak. A possible culprit is the helmet drink bag that astronauts sip from during spacewalks. Water also is piped through the long underwear worn under a spacesuit, for cooling.

%@AP Links

174-a-06-(Chris Cassidy, American astronaut, in air-to-ground communication)-"miserable but OK"-American astronaut Chris Cassidy says his Italian colleague, Luca Parmitano, was soaked and couldn't talk for a while at the end of the spacewalk, but is otherwise all right. (16 Jul 2013)

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