Category Archives: Living in Space

Luca Parmitano tells of the EVA in which his helmet filled with water

Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano gives a dramatic recounting of the nearly disastrous space suit water leak he experienced during his spacewalk on July 16th outside the International Space Station: EVA 23: exploring the frontier – Luca Parmitano

As I move back along my route towards the airlock, I become more and more certain that the water is increasing. I feel it covering the sponge on my earphones and I wonder whether I’ll lose audio contact. The water has also almost completely covered the front of my visor, sticking to it and obscuring my vision. I realise that to get over one of the antennae on my route I will have to move my body into a vertical position, also in order for my safety cable to rewind normally. At that moment, as I turn ‘upside-down’, two things happen: the Sun sets, and my ability to see – already compromised by the water – completely vanishes, making my eyes useless; but worse than that, the water covers my nose – a really awful sensation that I make worse by my vain attempts to move the water by shaking my head.


Last I heard, the leak problem has not been fully explained, though it is believe the water came from the coolant system. The suit will be brought back to earth by a Dragon capsule after SpaceX makes there next cargo delivery to the ISS, currently scheduled for next January.

Copenhagen Suborbitals: Video on “How to don a DIY Spacesuit”

Copenhagen Suborbitals posts this video about the recent space suit work:

This video presents an in-depth and detailed process of donning and operating a DIY suit — almost uncut.

Observe the very first try of donning the Copenhagen Suborbitals DIY spacesuit invented by Cameron Smith. The suit was brought to Copenhagen Aug 2013 by Cameron Smith and John Haslett for demonstration and further on-site seat and capsule interior design development.

This version of the suit is a proof of concept and a next generation suit will be created when John and Cameron returns to the US.

Update: Here is a related post with lots of pictures of the CS guys putting on and wearing Smith’s suit: Donning the DIY Suit – Space Suit Session Day 03 – Wired Science

Update 2: A video update on the space suit testing:

Winner of 2013 Sacknoff Prize for Space History announced

Here’s an announcement from the  journal Quest: The History of Spaceflight:

“Rethinking the Overview Effect” named winner
of 2013 Sacknoff Prize for Space History

Jordan Bimm earns cash prize, trophy, and publication in Quest.

“Rethinking the Overview Effect,” has earned York University (Toronto Canada) graduate student, Jordan Bimm, the 2013 Sacknoff Prize for Space History.

Established in 2011, the annual prize is designed to encourage students to perform original research and submit papers with history of spaceflight themes.  The winner receives a $300 cash prize, a trophy, publication in the peer-reviewed journal, “Quest: The History of Spaceflight,” and an invitation to present at the annual meeting of the Society for the History of Technology.

Over the years, the Prize has seen entries from students at universities throughout the world with papers covering a wide range of topics — from early animal research to the Korean space program; from women engineers at NASA Marshall in the 1960s to the public diplomacy behind the astronaut world tours; from a history of space debris to NASA’s Space Flight Participant program.

The winning paper from Mr. Bimm, a third year PhD student in Science and Technology Studies, focuses on how historical perspectives can offer insights into why we think what we think about  space and how this matters.  His paper, takes a look at the 1987 book, The Overview Effect by American author Frank White who coined the term to describe a collection of positive mental experiences reported by astronauts and cosmonauts returning from outerspace. The idea that viewing the Earth from space fundamentally changes people “for the better” has resonated with a number of important groups, including space psychologists, space industry advocates, politicians, members of environmental and peace movements, and most recently, members of the public with an interest in space. However, looking at the historical data, Mr. Bimm’s research suggests the overview effect is only one possibility among many for the human experience of viewing the earth from outerspace,

The jury was coordinated by Dr. David Christopher Arnold, the publisher of Quest, and consists of members of the Society for the History of Technology—Albatross Committee (aerospace).

More information about the Prize and the journal can be found at:

Contact:Scott Sacknoff

The Sacknoff Prize for Space History


Italy, the Moon, and a passing moment on the ISS

Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano on the International Space Station posts some beautiful pictures and a wonderful description of seeing his country at night from space:

Moon-rise-1024x679[1]The edge of the Moon is seen through high altitude noctilucent clouds.

Parmitano writes vividly about his view from the Cupola:

Using my torch, I enter Cupola and slowly, deliberately, I open each window, one after the other. Even though there are just a matter of minutes left before we fly over Italy, we are still above central Africa, where a raging monsoon stretches to fill my entire field of vision, from one horizon to the other, for hundreds of kilometres. In the darkness of the orbital night, lightning flashes an unreal light on one of the most beautiful scenes I have ever seen. The blue light streaks across my view, flaring from dozens of storm cells. With a frantic, syncopated rhythm worthy of the greatest percussionists, the white clouds lit up by the lightning momentarily rip open the black African night, made darker by the absence of street lighting. There is a violence to it that I can almost feel from up here, 400 kilometres above the highest clouds. The lack of thunder lends a surreal air to the storms, and the silence is deafening.


Looking towards the north, I see the Balearic Islands fully lit, and I consciously refrain from looking east straight away: I want to savour these moments. Beneath me, through Cupola’s central window, I see Tunis, Hammamet and then Sfax, and I realise there’s not much time left. Through the window right in front of me, lit up like village streets in Carnival, I see one of the most overwhelming sights I’ve ever seen as an astronaut: an unmistakable shape, completely cloudless, the boot of Italy lies perfectly outlined by lights that run continuously from the tip of Calabria to the Ligurian coast, tracing its profile like a brand-new constellation in the nocturnal depths of the Mediterranean Sea. Sardinia and Corsica, not as bright as the rest, move slowly across the scene, and on the north-eastern horizon, a violent storm seems to ravage central Europe, from Austria to Germany. From up here, Naples and Rome proudly dominate the scene, radiating a splendour above all other cities. But Bologna, Florence, Milan, Turin – they are all visible, thousands of kilometres away. Vesuvius forms a dark circle in a land utterly saturated by light.


It’s late, and tomorrow will be a long day. With those lights still filling my eyes, I slowly close the seven windows and cross the Station to return to my sleeping pod. Not even dreams could replace the beautiful reality that revolves, oblivious, beneath us.