NASA calls off spacewalk at last minute as astronaut suit malfunctions

NASA

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Two US astronauts abandoned plans to exit the International Space Station to conduct maintenance on Monday due to a spacesuit malfunction.

NASA officials called off the spacewalk because of a water leak in the cooling unit of one of the astronauts’ spacesuits.

The leak, which affected the suit donned by NASA astronaut Tracy Dyson, sprang up just after the suits were transferred to battery power just before they exited the space station.

The cooling unit on the spacesuits are designed to keep the wearers at a comfortable temperature while carrying out their work. Dyson and her crewmate Mike Barratt were set to remove a faulty electronics box from a communications antenna on the space station’s exterior.

“Right now, I’m comfortable, but I do feel a little warm,” Dyson was heard saying on a live stream of the event after the spacewalk was called off around 9 a.m. ET.

Dyson later expressed concern that the water leak may have affected electrical connectors.

“There’s still water shooting out,” Dyson said at one point. “We can assume that water got into that connector, electrical connector.”

NASA then worked to get Dyson back inside the space station from the airlock, the gateway to the space station’s exterior, while her suit remained on battery power.

The crew was not in danger at any point during the incident, according to NASA.

The spacewalk was set to kick off Monday morning and last about 6.5 hours, according to NASA.

The delayed spacewalk is only the latest in a string of setbacks around operations on the International Space Station in recent weeks.

This marks the second spacewalk in recent days that has been abruptly called off due to spacesuit issues.

Officials called off a spacewalk slated for June 13, which included Dyson and Matthew Dominick, because of “a spacesuit discomfort issue” with Dominick’s spacesuit. NASA declined to provide more details about the issue to protect the astronaut’s privacy.

In addition to the aborted Monday spacewalk, the federal agency has been aiming to carry out another on July 2 — before giving Boeing’s Starliner capsule the green light to undock from the orbiting laboratory and make its return home.

The Starliner spacecraft has been on its first crewed test flight to the space station. But the vehicle encountered several key issues during the first leg of its trip, including springing helium leaks and experiencing thruster outages, that have delayed its return.

It’s not yet clear whether the decision to call off Monday’s spacewalk will further delay Starliner’s return.

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