One of two cosmonauts working outside the International Space Station on Wednesday safely returned to the laboratory’s airlock after an electrical issue on his spacesuit forced Moscow’s ground control to end the routine spacewalk early, U.S. and Russian officials said.
Oleg Artemyev was nearly three hours into a six-hour spacewalk when voltage levels in his spacesuit’s battery began to drop, prompting flight controllers in Moscow to order the cosmonaut’s immediate return to the space station’s airlock.
“Oleg, drop everything and go back,” a flight controller urged Artemyev from mission control in Moscow, as heard on a live feed of space-to-ground audio. “Drop everything and start going back right away… Go back and connect to station power.”
Artemyev returned to the airlock and connected his suit to the space station’s power.
Russian flight controllers opted to terminate the spacewalk early once Denis Matveev, the other cosmonaut performing the spacewalk, positioned the robotic arm they had been upgrading back into its proper position.
Artemyev “was never in any danger,” NASA spokesman Rob Navias said.
The space station, a football field-sized research laboratory in low-Earth orbit, has housed international crews of astronauts for more than two decades, with Russia, the United States, Japan, Canada and the European Space Agency counted as the laboratory’s primary users.