Russian Space Freighter Delivers U.S. Space Suit Repair Tools

July 28th, 2013

Russia’s Progress 52 supply capsule docked with the International Space Station late Saturday, delivering a NASA tool kit to deal with the worrisome water leak that cut short a July 16 spacewalk by European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano among the 2.8 tons of cargo on board.

Progress 52 approaches International Space Station for docking. Photo Credit/NASA TV

The Russian freighter followed an “express” six hour, four orbit  launch-to-docking rendezvous trajectory for an automated linkup at 10:26 p.m., EDT. The Progress 52 was launched aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 4:45 p.m., EDT.

The express timeline accelerates what is normally a two day launch to docking operation.

Water suddenly flooded the space suit helmet of Parmitano during his mid July spacewalk withU. S.astronaut Chris Cassidy. Parmitano, a 36-year-old Italian Air Force test pilot, used memory and training to find his way to the safety of the station’sU. S.airlock as globs of water gathered around his eyes, ears and nose. The astronaut could have drowned had he choked, according to NASA’s Mission Control in a post-spacewalk news briefing.

Plans for a 6 ½ hour spacewalk were halted at just over 90 minutes.

An investigation by NASA experts has so far focused on the space suit’s cooling system. In the meantime, NASA appointed a five member Mishap Investigation Board to pinpoint the cause of the leak, contributing factors and to develop a set of recommendations for changes in maintenance and operating procedures as warranted.

The Progress capsule’s cargo included propellant for space station maneuvers, spare parts and research gear, water and compressed air and oxygen. It replaced an older Russian freighter at the station’s Pirs module, which was jettisoned last Thursday.