It's Raining Inside My Spacesuit

from the that-can't-be-good... dept

There was lots of news earlier this week about the planned space flight by the two astronauts onboard the International Space Station. It was the first time the space station would be left empty while a spacewalk occurred. Normally, there are three astronauts stationed onboard, and one can stay inside while the other two go out. However, due to the grounding of space shuttles, there are only two crew members, and both were needed for the walk. I had assumed that the worries weren’t that big of a deal, but in case you needed a reminder of just how dangerous space is, the space walk was cut short after cosmonaut Alexander Kaleri reported that it was “raining” inside his space suit. Apparently, the device that prevents condensation inside the space suit malfunctioned, causing the temperature to heat up and water to start showing up. According to this other report, after telling people of this problem he was told to return slowly to the space craft without exerting himself. I’m just trying to imagine the circumstances. You’re out in space all alone. No one is around to come rescue you if something goes really wrong, your suit starts filling with water, and people down on earth tell you to take your time getting back to safety? And, you just calmly head back without freaking out? That’s impressive.

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Comments on “It's Raining Inside My Spacesuit”

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Oliver Wendell Jones (profile) says:

Filling with water? Not likely

The only water in the suit would have to come from one of two places: a water bottle with a sippy tube, and the water in the astronauts exhaled breath.

Since the article refers to the anti-condensation system, it’s most probable that the moisture is coming from the astronaut’s own breath, which means it’s going to get moist, but not really get very wet inside. However, the more he exherts himself, the more he’s going to exhale, the more moisture is going to build up and it could get to the point where it’s completely misting over the inside of his helmet, and although I’ve never worn a space suit, I’m going to guess it’s impossible to pull your arm in out of the sleeve and snake it up to the inside of your face plate to wipe it off.

Being stuck outside of a space station in a suit and blinded has to be a pretty scary feeling, though…

red says:

Re: Filling with water? Not likely

I was watching the walk (nasatv internet stream). This was a russian led walk (with russian suits and controllers). He tried to blow off the warning light and turned to cooling on full..saying it was only like being at the beach….But they were in the dark so when the sun came up he started to roast. The moisture was only a secondary effect.

He was very calm…but he began to tell the US pilot to skip procedures on the way in. He could not read the air gages in the airlock for the last 5 minutes and was asking to pop the helmet early.

They opened the suit slowly to see if they could identify the malfunction which it seems that they did (a pinched cooling hose near the belly).

Both men are very profesional and very brave…this was not like early ISS walks where every revolution of the screwguns had to be reported to mission control.


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