Space suit leak happened before, NASA admits

February 26, 2014

A US-made space suit that leaked water into a helmet and threatened to drown a European astronaut had malfunctioned before, NASA admitted on Wednesday.

The flaw appeared during a spacewalk a week prior to the July 16 outing by Luca Italian astronaut Parmitano and an American spacewalker, but US space agency officials misdiagnosed it, meaning that the incident was preventable, NASA said in its final report on the investigation into what went wrong.

"The actually suffered the same failure at the end of EVA (extravehicular activity) 22, performed a week earlier, and this event was not properly investigated, which could have prevented placing a crew member at risk a week later," said a summary of the report NASA posted online.

The fault was attributed to "misdiagnosis of this suit failure when it initially occurred."

Parmitano's helmet began leaking water shortly after he began his spacewalk. He was rushed back inside the International Space Station and was rattled by the experience, but unhurt.

He had 1.5 liters of water in his helmet by the time he was rescued, NASA said.

Explore further: NASA rigs up snorkel in spacesuit after risky water leak

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