Referring to the 2013 incident when Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano suffered a leak in his EVA suit causing water to build up dangerously around his face. By the time he was approaching the airlock, he was largely blinded and had water over his nose.

“Parmitano set out first. Initially, he recalls, “it was okay.” He traveled the same path he’d used to exit the station, following his tether around the Z1 Truss, moving from one handrail to the next. Halfway back to the airlock, he came to a protruding antenna boom he had to maneuver around. On every EVA, astronauts are given a list of items to avoid touching. It might be a fragile or hazardous piece of equipment, or a panel with a delicate coating. Even certain handrails are off-limits: those with sharp pits from meteoroid impacts, which, like freshly cut metal, could rip the spacewalkers’ gloves. The antenna was on the list. To navigate around it, Parmitano says, “I had to flip up with my head toward the station and my feet toward the sky.”That’s when things got bad. Whether it was the flipping motion or just his Snoopy cap becoming so saturated that the water had nowhere else to flow, a large blob of liquid moved down, covering Parmitano’s eyes and getting in his nostrils. Now he could breathe only through his mouth, and he couldn’t see clearly through the glob of liquid clinging to his face.


So his flip at the antenna seems to have inadvertently made the problem worse.

Here’s the questions:

Could a method of maneuvering by a single astronaut force water down into the body of the suit, and away from the helmet area? Some form of jump, spin and land?

Would a 2 astronaut maneuver to induce a spin be a good idea in this situation? Basically hold hands and spin feet out. [This is probably a bad idea. Better to start and stop motion toward the airlock so forces push fluids toward boots and away from helmet of the victim]

Could a suit be fitted with an air release system which could do this automatically for an incapacitated astronaut?

Would this all work for vomit as well? No one was ever vomited in an EVA suit, and the predictions are grim. If water can be forced down into the suit, I imagine clothes and perhaps the diaper might hold it. Vomit is a bigger problem.

My interest in this has recently been peaked because there is talk about a space tourist paying not just for a trip to the ISS, but also for an EVA. Not a great place for an amateur, but it’s probably going to happen.

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    $\begingroup$ "Basically hold hands and spin feet out." Not sure this is possible given the constraints of the suits and of being tethered. "Oops, I let go of him!" $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Jun 30 at 23:40
  • $\begingroup$ Yea, but these are desperate things you do to try and keep someone alive for the 10 minutes it’s going to take you to get them into the airlock. The science of “EVA Paramedic” is in its infancy. $\endgroup$ – Anthony Stevens Jul 1 at 11:37
  • $\begingroup$ If you are spinning someone around you are not moving to the airlock. The idea doesn't sound practical to me. $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Jul 1 at 11:41
  • $\begingroup$ Step one in any medical emergency is clearing the airway. Getting the floating water off the face is the closest we have when both the rescuer and victim are wearing EVA suits. I’m not suggesting a continuous motion, just a clearing of the helmet. Might also want to push the guy from the feet, then flip and decelerate the same way. Now that I think about it, probably better than spinning. $\endgroup$ – Anthony Stevens Jul 1 at 11:47
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    $\begingroup$ NASA put an absorbent pad in the helmet. Simple, practical, safe. No gymnastics required. $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Jul 1 at 11:51

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