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A Russian spacewalker had to return to the International Space Station on Wednesday when the battery voltage suddenly dropped in his spacesuit. Russian mission control ordered station commander Oleg Artemyev to quickly return to the airlock to connect his suit to the station’s power supply. The hatch remained open while his partner, Denis Matveev, cleaned up outside. NASA said not a single person was ever in danger.
In fact, Matveev stayed out for about another hour before he too was ordered to pack it up. Although Matveev’s suit was fine, Russian mission control shortened the spacewalk because flight rules insist on a buddy system. Astronauts managed to install cameras on the European Space Agency’s new robotic arm before the problem arose, barely two hours into the planned 6.5-hour journey into space. went back in, leaving some work on the robotic arm installation unfinished.
The 36-foot-long (11-meter) robotic arm arrived at the space station last summer aboard a Russian laboratory. Meanwhile, NASA’s spacewalks have been suspended for several months. In March, water seeped into the German spaceman’s helmet. It wasn’t nearly the kind of spill that happened in 2013, when an Italian astronaut nearly drowned, but it was still a safety concern. In the previous case, the water came from the cooling system in the suit’s underwear. The spacesuit, which failed in March, will be returned to Earth this week in a SpaceX capsule for further investigation.