Astronaut Recounts Near-Drowning in Space

Life-support system malfunctioned


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The Italian astronaut who nearly drowned in his space suit when his life-support backpack malfunctioned during a spacewalk last month shared new details about the near-miss on his blog Tuesday.

“But worse than that, the water covers my nose — a really awful sensation that I make worse by my vain attempts to move the water by shaking my head,” Luca Parmitan wrote. “By now, the upper part of the helmet is full of water and I can’t even be sure that the next time I breathe I will fill my lungs with air and not liquid.”

As the water filled his helmet, Parmitano became disoriented and tried to contact his spacewalking partner. With time running short, he used his safety cable to pull him back to the station’s hatch. His plan was to open the safety valve on his helmet if the water reached his mouth

Once Parmitano made it to the hatch, the astronauts inside began repressurizing the airlock. “Finally, with an unexpected wave of relief,” the door opened and the crew removed his helmet.

NASA has traced the problem to the astronauts backpack, but the precise cause remains unknown.

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