Astronaut with flooded helmet felt like goldfish

In this image from video made available by NASA, astronauts discuss the aborted spacewalk aboard the International Space Station on Tuesday, July 16, 2013. A dangerous water leak in the helmet of Luca Parmitano, bottom center facing camera in white suit, drenched his eyes, nose and mouth, preventing him from hearing or speaking as what should have been a routine spacewalk came to an abrupt end. (AP Photo/NASA)

July 18, 2013 12:22:11 PM PDT
Now he knows what it's like to be a goldfish in a fishbowl.

Two days after his helmet flooded during a spacewalk, astronaut Luca Parmitano relived the experience Thursday, describing how water kept trickling into his helmet until big globs covered his eyes, then his nose. It was hard to see, he said, and he could not hear.

"For a couple of minutes there, maybe more than a couple of minutes, I experienced what it's like to be a goldfish in a fishbowl -- from the point of view of the goldfish," Parmitano said in a TV interview from the International Space Station.

Parmitano said he used his memory to make his way back into the space station. His spacewalking partner, Christopher Cassidy, was a big help.

The 36-year-old Italian Air Force officer said he was "miserable but OK" as Tuesday's spacewalk came to an abrupt end.

"Imagine walking around with your eyes closed in a fishbowl. Really, that's what was going on ... It's just a very uncomfortable feeling to be with your face underwater for all that time," he said.

Parmitano said he was lucky to get back inside so quickly.

NASA managers have said Parmitano could have choked or drowned.

The astronauts as well as engineers in Houston are still trying to figure out what went wrong. Parmitano's drink bag has been ruled out. The only other possibility is the cooling system for his suit. Parmitano said his long underwear, containing water tubes, appears to be fine.

Parmitano became Italy's first spacewalker last week. His spacesuit functioned perfectly the first time around. Tuesday's excursion was a continuation of the maintenance work.

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