Drowning In Space: When Your Space Suit Is Your Enemy

03 Sep
Gemini 4 Spacewalk

Gemini 4 Spacewalk


You would think that the last thing that an astronaut would fear while performing a spacewalk would be drowning. How on earth does that happen? Oh, wait a minute, he wouldn’t be on Earth. I guess out there in the wild blue yonder all the rules change. Ask Luca Parmitano, an Italian astronaut who worked on board the International Space Station (ISS). It seems that over a liter of water accumulated inside his helmet obstructing his ears and his eyes and raising the possibility that he could drown in space.

He isn’t the only one to suffer spacesuit problems during spacewalks, Extravehicular Activities or EVAs in NASA-speak. Here is an interesting article from The New Scientist on five such situations.



Posted by on September 3, 2013 in Asphyxia, Medical Issues, Space Program


3 responses to “Drowning In Space: When Your Space Suit Is Your Enemy

  1. wildninja

    September 3, 2013 at 4:46 pm

    Parmitano certainly kept his cool while this was going on, but what a terrifying event. I was watching related material on NASA TV including tests of the spacesuit after this happening, and seeing the water rise up and “blob” inside the helmet was unnerving.

    For those who want to see how water behaves in space, the recent washcloth demo by Chris Hadfield sheds some light on what happened inside Parmitano’s helmet:


  2. Frank Karl

    September 4, 2013 at 3:58 pm

    Surface tension..hummmm. Years ago I saw a blood splatter expert demonstrate the high surface tension of blood and how it helps convey direction and force. Murder in space would present very different evidence. Some objects would wet and have a stain, on other object the blood droplets would just roll off. Dried blood might just float free of the surface. CSI’s in space would have a difficult job.

    stay safe



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