Thursday, February 27, 2014

Incident at ISS outdoor use - Almost drowned in the universe - Sü

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27 February 2014 18:01

The ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano during his spacewalk in July 2013

(Photo: Reuters )

Because his helmet full of water ran, the Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano almost drowned during a space walk. An investigation shows that NASA knew of a defect – and ignored the warning signs


a hair the European Astronaut Luca Parmitano would come last year killed when his space suit slowly filled with water. But the near-disaster could have been avoided – if engineers had not ignored warning signs earlier. This is the conclusion an investigation report that the U.S. space agency Nasa has published on Wednesday.


had already Parmitano 44 minutes outside the International Space Station ISS stopped , when he noticed fluid on the back of his head. The ground crew came from a malfunction of the drinking bag – a supposedly well-known problem, which had never had worse consequences. Parmitano went on unfazed. When, however, more and more fluid accumulated in the helmet, the ground control to cancel the exit decided.

At this time, had the water that wafts in zero gravity in large bubbles in the space suit around, already placed over Parmitanos nose, mouth, ears and eyes. The Italians started having problems breathing, he was only able to shimmy blind to the airlock back, his radio link had dropouts. Inside the station, the other astronauts had Parmitano rid as soon as possible from his broken suit. Video images of Nasa showed a clearly battered astronauts.

one and a half liters of water in the helmet

“Of all the problems that have been encountered in field work, which was probably the most serious,” said Christopher Hansen, ISS, chief technical officer at NASA and Director of the Committee of Inquiry. “I’m at least aware of any other incidents, one of which ran a similar great danger.” Together with four colleagues Hansen presented the preliminary results of its investigation on Wednesday. The 222 page report provides the Nasa no good report.

Clogged holes in the pump system the water-cooled space suit led, therefore, to the fact that the fluid could not drain. They dammed up, went into a ventilation system and escaped to the interior of the suit and at the end of Parmitanos exit had 1.5 gallons of water accumulated in the helmet. Hansen admits that the problem was unexpected and difficult to detect. Even the investigating committee took weeks to determine the cause of the leakage.

is unforgivable in the eyes of the chief investigator, however, that the same problem had previously occurred one week at a previous use Parmitanos and largely ignored. Even then complained about the astronaut suit in the water, and already there it had the ground crew pushed on problems with the water bladder: Small amounts of liquid were simply considered normal. An official troubleshooting failed to materialize. This would only have meant that the regular experimentation would be left lying on the space station, they also had the ground crew brought a lot of bureaucratic work


cause of the fault unclear

“It is on the one hand saying that the water bladder has been considered by the teams as the most likely source of error,” said William Gerstenmaier, NASA’s director of human spaceflight. “But just when we are familiar with systems we have to always dig deeper and deeper for possible mistakes.” His boss, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, is more explicit: In a letter to employees he laments the lack of safety culture, which has contributed to the incident. “In our exuberance to do the job, we have minor irregularities seems to be acceptable,” he writes. “But we have an obligation to never tick unusual situations before we have not fully understood and prevent future.”

Exactly this behavior had already conducted several times in the history of NASA to disasters -. least eleven years ago, when problems with the heat shield of the shuttle were ignored and led to the crash of the space shuttle Columbia

the actual cause of Parmitanos problem is not fully understood. Still can not tell where the aluminum silicate came that has clogged the holes in the suit, the U.S. space agency. No later than July when the next exit coming up, NASA engineers want to have however clarified this question. Then the German astronaut Alexander Gerst will be on board the ISS most likely already currently training for his first outdoor use.

German Air and Space Center living and working on the ISS

Daily meetings and the weekend is cleaned: What to expect from the German astronaut Alexander Gerst to the ISS space station

(Video: DLR , Photo: Esa / Nasa)

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source and Editor: SZ from 28.02.2014/chrb/rus

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