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Water Leak in Astronaut Helmet Halts Spacewalk

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(HOUSTON) -- Mission Control is trying to understand just what caused an unusual problem with water accumulating inside astronaut Luca Parmitano's helmet during his spacewalk Tuesday morning.

The unexpected problem forced Mission Control to abort the spacewalk and send Parmitano and colleague Chris Cassidy back into the airlock of the International Space Station.

The crew inside the space station raced to help Parmitano get out of his spacesuit because he was having trouble seeing and hearing at that point. Cassidy remarked to Mission Control "the water tastes funny, not like our water from the portable water dispenser" after the two were out of their spacesuits. The spacewalk was supposed to last about six and a half hours, but the water problem shortened it to an hour and 32 minutes.

It is not known yet what went wrong with Parmitano's suit. He initially told Mission Control he thought it was a leak in the suit's drink bag, but it could be the result of some other problem.

This was the second spacewalk for the two in a week -- Cassidy was on his sixth spacewalk, and Parmitano was on his second. He was the first Italian astronaut to walk in space when he headed out. None of the items on the spacewalk to-do list Tuesday are critical, but they are important for space station maintenance and to prep the station for a new Russian module that will be coming up to the space station.

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