oleg artemyev, international space station, iss, spacewalk, nasa

Due to an unexpected malfunction in his space suit, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev abandoned his spacewalk on Wednesday after being ordered to return to the International Space Station.

After Artemyev reported experiencing an electrical problem with his spacesuit-a voltage fluctuation in his Orlan spacesuit battery pack–Moscow Mission Control ordered the Expedition 67 Commander to go back to the airlock.

‘Drop Everything and go back!’

ISS Russian segment head Vladimir Solovyov ordered Artemyev to immediately drop everything and head back to the airlock right away to return to station power.

While Artemyev may not have been in any immediate danger, if his spacesuit’s power had been cut off completely, he would have been unable to communicate with his fellow spacewalker, Denis Matveev, and flight controllers on the ground until he was able to plug back into the power supply on the International Space Station.

Artemyev followed the order and wentback to the airlock on the space-facing side of the Poisk mini-research module, where he and Matveev started their spacewalk to install a robotic arm at 9:53 a.m. EDT (1353 GMT). He reported that the voltage in his spacesuit battery was low two hours into the spacewalk. After being ordered to return to the ISS, Artemyev still fiddled with his crew lock bag before making his way back. At this point, Solovyov fprcefully told Artemyev to “drop everything and go back.”

Artemyev then headed back into the ISS, leaving Matveev behind to wrap things up before mission control officially terminated the spacewalk. If the voltage of the spacesuit power had continued to drop, Artemyev not only would have lost contact with mission control, and his fellow space walk partner cosmonaut Matveev, the spacesuit’s fan would not have also been circulating air, making it difficult for Artemyev to breathe.

Spacesuit Would ‘Get to Uncomfortable Temperature’

While Artemyev was said not to have been in immediate danger, an expert disagreed. Jonathan McDowell from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics told Gizmodo that if the electrical power failed, the space suit would “quickly get to a very uncomfortable temperature.”

The two cosmonauts were scheduled to spend about six and a half hours outside the station’s space-facing Poisk module. Artemyev and Matveev had successfully installed cameras on the European robotic arm outside the ISS and were in the process of removing launch restraints from the so-called “hands” of the mechanical arm when voltage on Artemyev’s spacesuit started to drop. The cosmonauts were also supposed to relocate an external control panel and test a mechanism set to grasp payloads as they reach the ISS. This will be rescheduled for a future spacewalk.

‘Solar Panels Needed’ on Spacesuits, Said Artemyev

Uopn his return to the airlock Artemyev suggested improvements to the spcesuits used for spacewalks.He said “solar panels are needed” on the spacesuits for them to recharge during the “extravehicular” activity.

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