Several weeks after NASA aborted a spacewalk outside the International Space Station following a report of a water leak inside Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano’s helmet, Parmitano’s spacewalk partner has released a two-part video explaining the origin of the leak.
The July 16 spacewalk was aborted approximately an hour-and-a-half into what was to be a six-hour spacewalk to perform routine maintenance, after water began accumulating in Parmitano’s helmet from an unknown source. The one to one-and-a-half liters of “funny-tasting” water drenched his nose and mouth, affecting his ability to see, hear and speak. Engineers initially suspected the drinking-water bag, but then moved to the spacesuit’s cooling system, which holds about a gallon of water laced with iodine to prevent bacteria buildup, as the origin of the leak.
In the video, U.S. astronaut Chris Cassidy says that the water originated in the suit’s cooling system and leaked into the ventilation system. Holding Parmitano’s helmet, Cassidy points out the ventilation port, where the water reportedly began to seep into the helmet before beginning to cover Parmitano’s eyes, nose and mouth.
While both astronauts ultimately made it safely back inside the ISS, “if [the water] had continued to leak much more, it would have been really serious,” Cassidy said.
According to NASA spokeswoman Brandi Dean, agency engineers have no released an official report on the cause are currently focusing on the spacesuit’s primary life support system as the source of the problem. Florida Today reports that the team is particularly interested in both a sublimator that disperses heat from the suit and a gas trap cartridge that filters oxygen running through the system.