After a leak was discovered in one of the astronauts’ helmets, NASA may be able to finally retire the antiquated spacesuits aboard the International Space Station.
Spacesuits are, without a doubt, essential for any astronaut. They assist them in doing routine maintenance and improvements on the space station and serve as the only barrier between them and the harsh vacuum of space.
And while spacesuits have served admirably on most of those flights, they are no longer up to the task after nearly four decades of service.
Earlier estimates suggested that roughly 18 spacesuits were still operational, but that was in 2017, and the number would almost certainly have decreased by now.
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The most recent instance that caused this abrupt shift was the March spacewalk by astronauts Raja Chair and Matthias Maurer.
Maurer discovered wetness under his visor while installing hoses on a radiator beam valve module outside the ISS.
While Maurer’s situation was not life-threatening, it could have been far worse. The ISS spacewalks were put on hold after this event, according to NASA.
American spacesuit leaks! NASA cancels spacewalk https://t.co/LTfoH7wIv2
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Because the suits can only be repaired by engineers on Earth, NASA aims to return them during a SpaceX Dragon mission in June. They emphasize that spacewalks are currently too dangerous due to the defective suits.
NASA has already shown off its new spacesuits in 2019, which were set to replace the aging ones. They were meant to be utilized on Artemis missions, as well. Unfortunately, due to financing constraints, the deployment of such suits has been delayed.
The lives of the old suits have been extended till 2028. However, if further problems arise, they may be obliged to decommission it sooner.