A few hours into what was intended to be a nearly seven-hour spacewalk, a Russian cosmonaut was repeatedly ordered to drop what he was working on and return to the International Space Station’s airlock because of an issue with his spacesuit.
NASA officials said during a livestream that the cosmonaut, Oleg Artemyev, was never in any danger. Still, issues with the battery pack that powers his spacesuit were concerning enough for mission controllers to urgently order him to return to the space station and attach his suit to ISS power. The battery issues were causing “voltage fluctuations” in Artemyev’s spacesuit, according to commentary on the spacewalk livestream.
Officials on the ground gave Artemyev several warnings that he needed to urgently return to the airlock.
“Drop everything and start going back right away,” was one of the last dispatches from the ground before Artemyev confirmed he was headed for the airlock. A few minutes later, he was able to re-enter the space station and hook his suit up to its power.
It’s not yet clear how the spacewalk will continue. Mission controllers are currently working to hash out next steps. Mateev, who was working alongside Artemyev on the spacewalk, remained just outside the space station’s airlock.
The goal of Wednesday’s spacewalk was for the two cosmonauts, Artemyev and Matveev, to install two cameras on the new European robotic arm, which is affixed to the space station’s exterior on a Russian-controlled portion of the ISS.