NASA resolves issue with spacesuit helmet water leak

NASA resolves issue with spacesuit helmet water leak
NASA astronaut Barry ''Butch'' Wilmore, Commander of Expedition 42 is caught by the camera as the Earth's surface passes by in the background on the International Space Station, in this handout photo taken February 21, 2015, provided by NASA.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - Water that leaked into an astronaut's helmet after a spacewalk on Wednesday poses no threat, clearing the way for another outing to rig the International Space Station for new space taxis, NASA said on Friday.

Space station flight engineer Terry Virts was back in the station's airlock on Wednesday following a successful spacewalk when he noticed a small amount of water in his helmet.

Another astronaut nearly drowned during a July 2013 spacewalk due to a helmet leak. That outing was hastily aborted and NASA suspended spacewalks while engineers tried to figure out the cause.

Virts, who was making his second spacewalk in a week, was never in any danger, NASA said.

Engineers believe that about 0.5 ounce (15 ml) of condensation seeped into Virts' helmet as the airlock was repressurized.

"It doesn't always happen. It often depends on how cool the crew member's spacesuit is," Alex Kaneloakos, lead spacewalk officer, said during a NASA Television interview on Friday.

Virts and spacewalk partner Barry "Butch" Wilmore, the station's commander, have a third outing scheduled for Sunday to prepare parking spots for commercial space taxis under development by Boeing and privately owned Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX.

The astronauts plan to install a communications system the visiting vehicles will use to navigate to the station.

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