Aug 19, 2019 | Updated: 09:43 PM EDT

Should NASA and The International Space Station Be Worried About the Vapors?

Feb 27, 2015 05:46 PM EST

@Astroterry's First Spacewalk Aboard the ISS
(Photo : NASA)

Should the vapors be cause for concern? Well it certainly has been a question that has crossed NASA and the astronauts' aboard the International Space Station minds. Since the snafu on Wednesday, Feb. 25, when a routine spacewalk led to water leaking into space station flight engineer Terry Virts' helmet, the team has been buzzing with news of whether or not they will be cleared to walk again this weekend. But in a statement released on Friday, Feb. 27, NASA announced that the bit of vapor poses no threat to the astronaut and cleared Virts to continue in the mission of rigging the International Space Station for new space taxis that will shortly be on their way.

While NASA and the team aboard the International Space Station have investigated the situation and cleared Virts and spacewalk partner Barry "Butch" Wilmore for their mission, the surprise of water in Virts' helmet caused quite a scare. In July 2013, a similar situation led to another astronaut nearly drowning due to a helmet leak after a spacewalk, reminding researchers and astronauts aboard the ISS of the dangers of venturing out into open space. But NASA researchers say that while the novice spacewalker may not have been used to seeing the water droplets in the helmet, it's actually not too uncommon of a case. And NASA assures the public and the team that Virts was never in any immediate danger.

So what caused the water vapors that started the conversation and the investigation?

Engineers with NASA believe that the 0.5 ounces (15 mL) of water in Virts' helmet was the product of condensation that seeped in during the process of the airlock being repressurized. And apparently it's not too out of the ordinary.

"It doesn't always happen" lead spacewalk officer for NASA, Alex Kaneloakos says. "It often depends on how cool the crew member's spacesuit is."

And from the looks of it, Virts can rest assured that his spacesuit was quite cool.

Virts and Wilmore plan to spacewalk again on Sunday to further prepare spots for commercial space taxis. And if everything goes according to plan, the astronauts will also install a communications system this weekend which will allow visiting vehicles to navigate to the station.

Want to keep up with the International Space Station astronauts? Follow the team's missions here: ISS SPACE MISSIONS and follow Virts' Twitter account (@AstroTerry) for updates on the daily.

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