“In space, no one can hear you scream.”
This is Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano. He’s smiling here, but he certainly wasn’t smiling last month when he almost drowned outside the International Space Station. Parmitano was out on a routine maintenance mission on the ISS to investigate a leak when things went from bad to worse. His helmet started filling up with water, first covering up his earphones and then ultimately preventing him from being able to see or hear. As you can imagine, it was quite the frightening experience.
“The water covers my nose – a really awful sensation that I make worse by my vain attempts to move the water by shaking my head. By now, the upper part of the helmet is full of water and I can’t even be sure that the next time I breathe I will fill my lungs with air and not liquid,” writes Parmitano. “To make matters worse, I realise that I can’t even understand which direction I should head in to get back to the airlock. I can’t see more than a few centimetres in front of me, not even enough to make out the handles we use to move around the Station.”
Naturally, NASA is now conducting a full investigation to try and figure out what went wrong. They have yet to find the root cause.
I encourage you to read the full write-up, which is over 1600 words, at Luca’s blog on the European Space Agency’s website. The 36-year-old astronaut goes into some incredible detail about everything that happened.