Officers on the ground gave Artemev several warnings that he needed to return to the airlock.
“Drop everything and start heading back immediately,” was one of the last dispatches from the ground before Artemiyev confirmed he was heading for the airlock. A few minutes later, he was able to re-enter the space station and his suit connected to his powers.
Cosmonaut Denis Matveev, who was working with Artemyev on the spacewalk, remained outside the space station’s airlock for more than an hour until flight controllers decided to end the spacewalk early due to problems with Artemyev’s spacesuit.
A Russian translator said on the livestream that Artemyev jokingly told flight controllers that he felt “better than when he started the spacewalk” after returning to the ISS.
Spacewalks are a regular occurrence on the ISS as astronauts and cosmonauts – the Russian term for cosmonaut – must regularly leave the space station for maintenance, science experiments and other tasks. More than 250 spacewalks have been conducted outside the orbiting laboratory since it entered service nearly two decades ago, and they generally go without a hitch.
This was Artemyev’s seventh spacewalk and Matveev’s third. Both wore Russian-made Orlan spacesuits. There are also US-built EMU, or Extravehicular Mobility Unit, spacesuits on the ISS for spacewalks.
Both types of suits are designed to be completely self-contained, providing all air, providing the only barrier to the deadly vacuum of space between the astronauts and the spacewalk. They are equipped with communication equipment, ventilation and enough air for astronauts to breathe for hours.