Astronaut Nearly Drowned Inside Helmet: NASA

ABC's Gina Sunseri discusses dangerous situation that caused scrapping of NASA space walk.
9:03 | 07/17/13

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Transcript for Astronaut Nearly Drowned Inside Helmet: NASA
This is a special report from ABC news. I'm -- Cutler -- New York with an ABC news digital special report a close call at the International Space Station. An astronaut risked drowning inside his own helmet during a spacewalk yesterday. And today. They are digging deep into that suit to see what the problem -- Italy's -- apartment Tonto was in the first hour of what was supposed to be a six hour walk outside the station. We began to feel something like water filling up in suit. We're joined now from Houston with the latest on the investigation by ABC's -- -- area Gina when we first heard about this was almost a battle something like this could have happened. You know Dan at NASA and its wildest imaginations. Never envisioned this scenario. An astronaut drowning in a space -- on a spacewalk. 260 miles above planet earth. You know they run redundant training they -- -- they do all kinds of scenarios but. This -- one they had never envision that this morning here at the Johnson Space Center where I am today. Look upon a time was confirmed with a team of engineers on the ground there ripping that's thanks in part. Trying to figure out where all that water came from there's a drink bag on the space it's not like they're about many options when you're out on a spacewalk. They've got to drink fat which holds 32 ounces and then the cooling system that -- this basin that holds about another gallon of water. That's enough to have drowned him and as rapidly as -- -- and how -- Was filling up NASA so that was a very real possibility. Which is why they aboard the space -- -- did they know how much water actually got inside the -- They think between one leader and five liters of water was actually in the suit and helmet. How much was in the -- they're not quite sure. What you need to remember about water in space is that it doesn't dribble there aren't they you know most brutal left summit it turns into a big -- -- posted a video ironically on YouTube Monday German Karen Nyberg video washing her hair yet to space this virus. We'll look then this kind of hair challenge -- -- -- out there and he posted this video of himself. You know washing his hair and there's this big glob of water sitting on his head but just kind of -- -- -- -- -- What gives you an idea of how the water wouldn't -- -- his helmet. Now look at this where he's worn a helmet he can't do anything to get that water out of his -- his eyes or his ears so he was in serious trouble up there. It the space it's all designed the same orders each astronaut obviously it's -- of them but are the basic parameters. Uniform. Well. -- You know a really short -- not really tall asked not won't fit the majority of NASA suits. The suits are parts and they kind of snapping together and then. They screwed together so big who sort of customize a super match not but doesn't have a spare space suit up there not -- -- So they've got to figure out what happened to this one they would like to do that spacewalk to finish that spacewalk. The Russians are launching another module up to the space station later this year. And -- need to get a lot of wiring done before that can happen so at some point he'll have to venture out again but it won't be before they figure out. Just went horribly terribly wrong. From American astronauts -- -- -- -- or Russians that are that are going to be going out. While they've got four more spacewalks planned -- -- a matter of fact. This one they've got to get done at some point so but they're not gonna send those -- -- figure out what happened to that space that they want to make sure this never happens again. You know what's interesting later today we're going to be interviewing the next space station -- it's going up including two Russian cosmonauts. They're scheduled to go out and the spacewalk -- bazaars for reasons. You know the Olympics are being held -- so reaching -- in 2014 correct right well. Russia is sending the Olympic Torch up to the space station. -- and it will go out on a spacewalk with these two Russians on November 11 and literally two days later go back to earth. Russian space -- are very different from American spacesuit so we don't anticipate. The same kind of problem. But it will be very interesting to watch this unique space -- on November 11 with the Olympic -- Always a drive to go bigger and better than the last ceremony for the Olympics as an -- And now today not to new heights -- they want to put more miles on this torch. You have to literally to greater heights correct way out I want to listen to a part of -- apartment -- -- exchange of mission control when this first happened. I -- people sort. There -- ourselves for a thoughtful. They -- they can you clarify is that increasing or not increase. For mark Carroll -- feels like all the water. So. Is he suffered any kind of effects from this today it is easy to have kind of calmed fears -- or physically had any -- -- protectionist. -- the flight directors describe his reaction is grace under pressure. Luka is very thrilled to be up there he viewed this as a huge opportunity he was excited about the space walks. You know being an astronaut is not to -- these these men and women go through intensive training. Survival training they work under the most extreme conditions. And you know he responded gracefully. He came -- they drive them off you still haven't he tweeting yes things that happened a little trouble parents. You know I think about like swimmers ear only when you're on earth you can -- -- up. Well up in space there's no gravity so maybe they can suck it out with a vacuum I'm not sure -- them solve that problem. He's talking just fine now his hearing is still a little bit problematic as all that water stuff in his -- It is amazing that you can have that kind of calm as you pointed out some 200 miles above the Earth's surface then all of -- you have water floating around in your comment there. -- -- there was -- points and at some point yesterday when he wasn't able to actually speak as well because the water got into his mouth. He couldn't speak -- couldn't hear. What one flight controller told me the most heart stopping moment in mission control one. -- one fellow astronaut Chris Cassidy -- than it was a former navy seal by the way. One Chris Cassidy said Deluca Lucas can you hear me if you can squeeze my hands. That's how worried they -- because the water was filling up his ears his nose his mouth. So they're worried about him being able to breathe he certainly couldn't talk and he certainly couldn't hear. It is apps inmates and certainly a heart stopping moment now for mission control and obviously -- those other astronauts. On board as well. For more walks scheduled routine maintenance on main space station experiments. Well most good -- mostly spacewalks are routine maintenance. I don't know how you describe the spacewalk to take the Olympic Torch. I don't tell -- have been way. I get right that went -- right. I'm not sure how they gonna do it -- it's gonna go out there you know who wanted to that he wants this torch to have more miles than any other sports. So when you think about launching from -- it's time. You know going to space station and however long it's up there orbiting earth you know 9171500. Miles an hour -- So take you nineteen minutes to go around earth. However long I mean he -- hit they're gonna set the records with that Olympic Torch on that spacewalk on. Believable and usually what happens when Putin says he wants something he generally does get -- so we'll have to wait and see how that's gonna play into the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. ABC Jason Terry from Houston thank you so -- -- -- the Johnson Space Center again at close. Outside the International Space Station Italian -- apartment on one of the astronauts -- nearly drowning inside his own helmet. Of course we will check back with Gina and NASA for more on the investigation as it unfolds complete report on abcnews.com. For now on -- that's -- New York with -- ABC news digital special report. This has been a special report from ABC news.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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