back to article Ground control to Major Tim! Brit's spacewalk halted after NASA 'naut takes unexpected leak

NASA called an early halt to a British astronaut's spacewalk after water leaked in his American colleague's spacesuit. The European Space Agency's Major Tim Peake and his NASA counterpart Colonel Tim Kopra had planned to spend over six hours outside the International Space Station replacing a faulty sequential shunt unit that …

  1. moiety

    NASA called an early halt to a British astronaut's spacewalk after a water leaked in his American compatriot's spacesuit.

    Lucky it was just one water. Multiple waters could have been problematic.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Coat

      Roger! Waters in the spacesuit...

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Same suit

    It's the same #3011 suit that Parmitano wore too. They'll probably retire that and send it down on a Dragon for analysis.

    Also, the CO2 sensor dies when it hits water, so it was probably an early sign of trouble.

  3. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

    2 points

    1 Re picture illustrating article: these kind of selfies are totally acceptable

    2 Does anyone else remember the (very) short lived TV programme 'Space Cops'; specifically the episode about the faulty spacesuits?

    1. DuncanL
      Boffin

      Re: 2 points

      <nerd mode> Star Cops </nerd mode>

      1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

        Re: Re: 2 points

        Well, it was a long time ago, in a far away - no, cancel that...

        Anyway, it's comforting to know I'm not alone.

      2. Tom Chiverton 1

        Re: 2 points

        "Box, post a correction to that post"

  4. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Astronauts have to purge nitrogen from their blood for hours by huffing pure oxygen before suiting up to avoid getting the bends

    Is the pressure of the suits significantly lower than the one in the ISS? shouldn't the astronauts also decompress to suit pressure while living in the pure oxygen atmosphere (otherwise they will get oxygen poisoning)? Ho about using He/O mixtures then?

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

      This has been discussed at lenth (and competent) in the comments on the article announcing the Two-Tim-spacewalk a couple of days ago.

    2. Captain TickTock
      Boffin

      He/O

      They use He/O mixtures for deep, deep, deep sea diving, where you have high pressures.

      Would it be appropriate for space?

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: He/O

        This has been discussed at lenth (and competent) in the comments on the article announcing the Two-Tim-spacewalk a couple of days ago.

        Checking there.

        So it seems to be about reducing suit stiffness due to high internal pressure.

        This means you have to increase the oxygen content in breathable air to keep partial pressure of Oxygen constant.

        Helium is used to replace Nitrogen in high-pressure environments because Nitrogen has toxic effects on the nervous system at high pressures. So this is not useful here. Using Helium also increases the problem of outgassing ("the bends") when pressure falls, so this is even less useful.

        So this is all about a slow decompression to get to spacesuit-agreeable low-pressure while avoiding outgassing while keeping partial pressure of oxygen constant.

        Maybe one should switch to Arthur C. Clarke rigid suits...

      2. moiety

        Re: He/O

        It'd be appropriate as far as I know; but you'd have to lift all the helium cylinders into orbit. Spose you could generate helium on-site but more complexity and cost of lifting the equipment. Also helium is a small molecule, so you can lose pressure more easily through smaller holes...not sure if the materials exist to satisfactorily contain helium in a vacuum. Appropriate, but at least more expensive and possibly not doable at all.

        I sit corrected. According to Vic here:

        http://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/1/2016/01/13/peake_spacewalk/

        ...replacing nitrogen with helium is more iffy than I thought it was.

      3. PNGuinn
        FAIL

        Re: He/O

        Please Sir?

        May I be the first chipmunk to do a spacewalk?

        Please, please Sir??

    3. Vic

      shouldn't the astronauts also decompress to suit pressure while living in the pure oxygen atmosphere (otherwise they will get oxygen poisoning)?

      No. O2 poisoning occurs at high pressure, not low; even pulmonary roxicity wouldn't kick in for a couple of days at the pressures we're talking about.

      Ho about using He/O mixtures then?

      Heliox would increase the inert gas load, rendering them more susceptible to decompression injuries without any benefit.

      This is why the clever people at NASA - who participate in decompression theory discussions - suggest their astronauts decompress on 100% O2 before suiting up.

      Vic.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ground control to Major Tim

    There's water leaking, there's something wrong...

  6. TechnicalBen Silver badge
    Joke

    Proof that...

    It's really filmed in a giant swimming pool!

    (No, not the black helicopters icon!)

  7. linicks

    Tasting water?

    Doesn't seem safe to me - I mean, I don't know what goes into the life support systems on their backs, but that 'water' could have been any sort of chemical - how did they know it _was_ water?

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Tasting water?

      That's the fun part!

    2. Remy Redert

      Re: Tasting water?

      Oooh, that one's simple. There's nothing liquid in the suit besides water and possibly small amounts of urine (if you forgot to relieve yourself before suiting up). Similarly, there's nothing in there that is toxic in small amounts. Hence, tasting any liquid released inside the suit is safe enough. In the worst case scenario, it's a mild base and tastes really bad.

      1. druck Silver badge

        Re: Tasting water?

        There are two sources of water in the suit, water from the cooling system which is cold, and water from the drinking bottle, which is warm as it is located on the chest. Luckily any urine spillage on long space walks is avoided through use of the space nappy, or space diaper as the Americans like to call it.

        1. Vic

          Re: Tasting water?

          There are two sources of water in the suit, water from the cooling system which is cold, and water from the drinking bottle

          There's also perspiration, should they exert themselves, and the breathing gas will be humidified to a minimum of 47mmHg[1]. If any part of the suit were to get suitably cold, that could easily condense.

          Vic.

          [1] That's the humidity of exhaled air; breathing anything drier than that means you will be losing water to your environment. Of course, being a rebreathing environment, the humidity should get to that level and stay there. Which is nice.

    3. Vic

      Re: Tasting water?

      but that 'water' could have been any sort of chemical

      It will be predominantly water.

      Should that water have passed through the scrubber in the breathing loop, there will be other material in solution - NASA uses lithium hydroxide[1] as a scrubber material, so rather unpleasant, but in the concentrations we're talking about, it's not hazardous. Aside from that, the WOB of a wet scrubber is *much* higher (and so easily recognised), and it would surprise me[2] if they don't have telemetry to detect such conditions as well.

      TL;DR: I can't see it being a real problem.

      Vic.

      [1] We Earth-bound rebreather divers usually use calcium hydroxide, meaning the "caustic cocktail" from a scrubber flood really isn't a big deal. But lithium hydroxide gets you more CO2 absorption for a given mass of material, and is less fussy about scrubber temperature.

      [2] I haven't checked, so you probably should if you intend to quote this post...

  8. jonnycando
    Thumb Down

    Hmmm

    Two leaky suits. Makes a body wonder, yes indeed.

    1. Tom Chiverton 1

      Re: Hmmm

      We're bound to lose some one sooner or later. Hadfield as good as said so during Stargazing Live. And they all know the risks and thing it is worthwhile. Hopefully when (when!) it happens we won't be forced to can the whole thing like with the STS.

    2. Brangdon

      Re: Hmmm

      No, just one. It was the same suit that leaked both times.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Thicko me

    Remind me again are the suits keeping them warm from the cold in space, or are they keeping them cool from the heat in space?

    1. Ru'

      Re: Thicko me

      Yes.

    2. Tom Chiverton 1

      Re: Thicko me

      The difference between light and shade is several hundred degrees, so it's both.

      1. John Robson Silver badge

        Re: Thicko me

        Although also cooling them down from their own extertions - they can't lose any heat by convection or conduction, and they are exerting themselves quite significantly!

  10. Sly
    Coat

    Timmy?

    We're gonna need another Timmy!

    /coat

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Time out

    NASA had better determine what is wrong with these space suits that keep building up water as one astronaut almost died from drowning. This is no joke.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019