The Spacewalk That Almost Killed Him

How Luca Parmitano survived the scariest wardrobe malfunction in NASA history.

Luca Parmitano pauses outside the space station on his first spacewalk. A week later, things were a lot more hectic. (NASA/ESA )
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The best way they know to prevent bad days is to learn from experience, and to train astronauts, in every way they can, to handle every kind of circumstance they can think of. Asked what was the most important factor in his ability to handle his ordeal last July, Parmitano says, “I have a hard time when people say I was cold as ice, that I did such a great job. I have a hard time taking credit for that. What happens is that you get trained. And all the people who contributed to that should take the credit. I followed the route [back to the airlock] because I had studied the station—because somebody on the ground told me to study it.”

A few hours after the spacewalk, Korth and Eversley participated in a press conference in Houston to brief reporters about what had happened. Shortly before meeting the press, the ground team had been sobered to hear Parmitano, in a private teleconference, tell the full story. Until they heard his version, says Kimbrough, “we never really understood how bad it was.”

Eversley opened her statement to the press with “It was a good day today. The crew is inside and safe.” That may have sounded strange to the rest of the world, considering how far off track the EVA had gone. But her colleagues knew just what she meant.

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