Officials on the ground gave Artemyev several warnings to return to the airlock.
“Drop everything and come back immediately,” was one of the last dispatches from the ground before Artemyev confirmed he was heading for the airlock. Within minutes, he was able to re-enter the space station and connect his suit to its energy.
Cosmonaut Denis Matveev, who had worked alongside Artemyev during the spacewalk, remained near the space station’s airlock for over an hour until controllers decided to end the spacewalk early due to problems with Artemyev’s spacesuit.
A Russian interpreter said live that Artemyev jokingly told flight controllers that he felt “better than when he went into outer space” after returning to the ISS.
Spacewalks are a regular occurrence on the ISS, as astronauts and cosmonauts – as cosmonauts are called in Russia – regularly need to leave the space station for maintenance, scientific experiments and other tasks. There have been more than 250 spacewalks outside the orbiting lab since it went online some two decades ago, and they usually go off without a hitch.
It was Artemiev’s seventh spacewalk and Matveev’s third. Both men were dressed in Russian-made Orlan spacesuits. The ISS also carries American-made EMU or extravehicular mobility spacesuits for spacewalks.
Both types of suits are designed to be completely self-contained, providing all the air providing the only barrier between astronauts and the deadly vacuum of space during an EVA. They are equipped with communications, ventilation and enough air to allow astronauts to breathe for hours.