back to article Space-walker nearly OPENED HELMET to avoid DROWNING

Back in July, Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano went for a spacewalk from the International Space Station. The sortie broke a record for the shortest spacewalk of all time because his helmet filled with water, leading to a swift termination lest he suffer the bizarre fate of drowning in space. Parmitano's now blogged details …

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Re: SPOILERS (@ Justin Stringfellow 21st August 2013 09:54)

You face this quandry too?

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Devil

Re: SPOILERS (@ Justin Stringfellow 21st August 2013 09:54)

Don Jefe, get a wife. She'll teach you that no matter how right you are, she'll be righter and you made an error. In case you already have a missus and still asking that question, let her out of the basement, ffs!

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Headmaster

Re: SPOILERS (@ Justin Stringfellow 21st August 2013 09:54)

@ Theodore:

How paradoxical: I think you might be facing a quandary...

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Trollface

Re: SPOILERS (@ Justin Stringfellow 21st August 2013 09:54)

But what if you never make errors?

That only applies to Jake.

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sublimation?

I don't mean to be pedantic (I do actually), but isn't sublimation going the other way? From ice to gas?

I'm sure someone will correct me.

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Re: sublimation?

I did think that. My thoughts were that he was saying could open a vent somewhere where the water had accumulated and the water would boil into the vacuum. Doing this would cause the water to drop in temperature, and probably freeze around the vent stopping further venting, and possibly locking the vent open. I then wondered if he meant that ice would sublime.

Having the helmet open a little for a short time wouldn't kill him as long as he didn't try and hold his breath which could cause lung over expansion. Mind you, it's desperate times indeed to be thinking it.

It also shows incredible presence of mind to be faced with death in several interesting ways and to think through how to deal with it. Having had a near underwater panic attack when (in training) someone turned off my air cylinder in space, alone, it would be on the next level (or ten).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: sublimation?

Yes it is.

I imagine the water that is vented to space sublimates at such a low pressure, with the 'hole' blocked by ice once the pressure difference is low enough.

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Re: sublimation?

I thought sublimation was going from one phase to another without going through the intermediary phase

ie from plasma to liquid.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: sublimation?

"It also shows incredible presence of mind to be faced with death in several interesting ways and to think through how to deal with it."

There are a few people with that kind of psychological make-up - and no doubt it can be greatly enhanced by training and experience. No one else should even be considered for jobs such as jet fighter pilot, submariner, and above all astronaut. If in doubt, watch "Apollo 13" again and marvel that those guys stayed sane, let alone lived to tell the tale.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: sublimation?

Yes indeed, or solid to gas. I'm not sure it's appropriate for the simultaneous boiling and freezing which occurs when water is released into a vacuum either. I believe that in a sudden complete loss of pressure the effect is rather violent: much like the mass nucleation that occurs when you open a vigorously shaken bottle of pop. The energy carried away by the vaporising molecules reducing the temperature of the remaining H2O, just as an aerosol can cools as you use it. Water can't exist in a vacuum - only ice or free H2O molecules - molecules with sufficient energy to escape the crystal state are liberated, so all that's left by the sudden "boil" is ice. Not something one would choose to experience around one's head really.

I'm not sure English has a word for the process. Might I propose friel* as an appropriate portmanteau?

* http://www.esquire.com/cm/esquire/images/AnnaFriel.jpg

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Anonymous Coward

Re: sublimation?

Something to do with saying "I sublime" three times and stepping forwards. I think.

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Childcatcher

Re: sublimation?

English already has words for changes between the most common states of matter:

Solid to liquid - melting

Liquid to solid - freezing

Liquid to gas - evaporation or boiling

Gas to liquid - condensing

Sold to gas - sublimation

Gas to solid - deposition

Gas to plasma - ionization

Plasma to gas - deionization

What I do not know is what changes (e.g. Bose–Einstein condensate) to and from other states are called.

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Coat

Re: sublimation?

* http://www.esquire.com/cm/esquire/images/AnnaFriel.jpg

Best argument I've seen for carrying a role of gaffer's tape everywhere I go.

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He was documenting his thinking.

It seems he was documenting his thinking, rather than doing an objective post-event analysis.

You can forgive a person, even a physics PhD, for not pondering the finer points of phase change while he's <echo>DROWING IN SPAAAACCEE</echo>.

Sublimation or not, the net result would be the same: the latent heat loss would quickly cause ice formation which could make for a bad day.

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Joke

Re: He was documenting his thinking.

He just read the wrong line of the script. The sublimation escape is in scene #113.

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Brave bloke

Pretty inspiring to read about how calm and reasoned he was the entire way through the ordeal.

Had it been me up there, the water in the helmet would *not* have been the only fluid in the spacesuit.

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Whataguy!

I think only this can sum this story up...

http://tellyathon.co.uk/2006/08/12/what-a-guy/

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I was playing Kerbal Space Program with my son...

And we tried recreating one of the Apollo missions. While we were building testing, (then rebuilding and testing again) and finally flying our rocket, we talked about the real life missions and all the training astronauts had to go through to not only get to the moon but to deal with almost every conceivable thing that they could think of that could possibly go wrong.

It's hard enough when the expected occurs. When the unexpected occurs, it's ingenuity and bravery like Luca Parmitanos that saves the day.

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Bod

There's a film in that

Quick, bang out a film based on it, pad it out to 3 hours, in 3D.

Still would be more interesting than just recycling every film made in the last 10 years due to lack of imagination. Though they'd then have another film to remake in a couple of years.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: There's a film in that

For Hollywood, this would only rank as a minor incident during a long laser powered arc of action starring a maverick, misunderstood outsider who uses unorthodox means to get what he wants while wearing an oil stained torn T-shirt who coincidentally has a ripped upper body and an unshaven face. Meanwhile his friends who don't approve of his drinking habit, but love him deep down, come to realise that only. this. one. man, can save the world. So they recruit a school of frickin' laser space sharks, who take pity on him, and start to suck all the water from his helmet. But as his O2 level counts down (close-up on) 5...4...3...2.. a micro-meteorite hits the sharks, who explode in fire ball, the hero dies and the President names a school after him.

etc.

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Re: There's a film in that

No, the hero almost never dies in Hollywood movies. It ruins the chance for them to make even worse sequels.

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Devil

Re: There's a film in that

There's already a movie for that. If they hurry up, they might still squeeze this into "Gravity"...

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water? or fluid?

that'll teach him to wee in his suit!!

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Anonymous Coward

ether

If he was drowning in ether, I could understand it.

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Anonymous Coward

You know, I only have absolute respect for these people who go into space and the boffins who get them there. It's a very hostile environment and its a monumental achievement by man (and women!!)

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Is it a very hostile environment???

... or is it a non-existant one?

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Anonymous Coward

"Sortie" ?

Who was he attacking?

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Bit of an understatement...

“The unexpected sensation of water at the back of my neck surprises me – and I’m in a place where I’d rather not be surprised.”

understatement of the century?

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Anonymous Coward

You are having a bad problem and will not come back from space today.

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Coat

Frank Doberman character on Armstrong...

Was I the only one thinking of Harry Enfield's angry character?

"...I would say, Oi, Armstrong, no. That is not a space suit. If you want the toilet you raise your hand..."

I was the only one. Oh well, getting my coat.

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Coat

Re: Frank Doberman character on Armstrong...

"It's a NICE suit, but not a SPACE suit!

It does NOT contain an intricate system of tubing for the collection of bodily waste!" :-D

From memory, so probably not accurate. :-D

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Re: Frank Doberman character on Armstrong...

"Only me!

"You, don't wanna do it like tha-at.

"You don't wanna drink the water away! That gets it too close to your nose and you could breathe it in! An' drown!

"No, you wanna take yer 'elmet right off! Let the water escape and put yer 'elmet back on again!

"'Ere! I'll help!"

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Re: Frank Doberman character on Armstrong...

Parmitano: "Come in-a Wayne! Come in ISS control! Come in! Someone-a help-a me! Issa water in-a my 'elmet! I'm-a drowning"

Wayne at ISS Control: "Shaddap! I am 'aving a faaaag!"

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I want to see this as an option/scenario in KSP!

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units

Parmitano uses psi, cm, and lb in his account — in both the English and Italian versions. Are psi and lb commonly used by the ESA?

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Oh, the humanity!

It's exceedingly clear that following this nearly-terrible-tragedy the entire ISS simply MUST be de-orbited and any and all space-related activities ceased for at least the next TWO DECADES (or until even the bureaucrats have forgotten why we aren't up there, whichever takes longer). I mean, isn't that how NASA generally handles any problem...?

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Can you imagine what evolutionary hurdles we, as humans, had to overcome to be able to survive in such a harsh environment such as space? Took us millions of years to get to the point where bi-pedism became the main factor of enabling our brain to grow exponentially. We have only just grasped the concept of stepping out of our comfort zone and explore potentially lethal environments just for the sake of exploration.

Hats off to these pioneers! Please, please make peeing in space more safe for us mere humans.

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Windows

US 'nauts are ok...

As the Sydney Morning Herald reports:

NASA has suspended all US spacewalks* until the problem is resolved.

So, anyone else with a funny accent is OK then.

Righty-oh.

*Is there any other kind, at the moment?

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/technology/sci-tech/drowning-in-space-astronaut-tells-of-spacewalk-terror-20130821-2sad0.html#ixzz2cigksQA8

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