Watch it live: NASA talks about aborted spacewalk, water in helmet

A spacewalk outside the International Space Station was cut off after water began pouring into astronaut Luca Parmitano's helmet, NASA officials said Tuesday. You can watch a live briefing about what happened at 1:30 p.m. Pacific time in the video above.

Parmitano, a European Space Agency astronaut who became Italy’s first spacewalker after his first foray on July 9, was little more than an hour into the spacewalk when he reported that his head felt "really wet" and that the feeling was increasing. Soon, water was getting into his eyes.

Roughly half a liter (about a pint) of water had leaked in, NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy said as he peered into his spacewalk partner’s helmet. Parmitano quickly drank the remains of his drinking-water bag, in case it was the source of the leak. 

The flight director, David Korth, told both Parmitano and Cassidy to return to the airlock. Water had been getting into Parmitano’s eyes, and with all that liquid around his face, the astronaut ran the risk of choking.

The spacewalk officially began at 4:57 a.m. PDT and ended at 6:39 a.m., making it the second shortest in the station’s history.

Spacewalks usually last several hours because they’re hard to set up; the astronauts have to spend the night in the airlock so that their body acclimates to lower pressure, reducing the risk that they’ll get "the bends" in the near-vacuum of space. Spacesuits aren't easy to put on, either. With all that production, the astronauts try to get as much work done in one go as possible.

Fortunately, none of the tasks is particularly urgent; the priority appeared to be preparing for the arrival of a Russian lab module that isn't scheduled to arrive at the space station until December.

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