- 07.17.13 01:01 PM EDT
Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano escaped a life-threatening situation on Tuesday while on a spacewalk. The 36-year-old's helmet filled with water that NASA now believes to be the cooling substance from the inner lining of his spacesuit. Fellow astronaut Chris Cassidy saved him from drowing by bringing him back inside the International Space Station.
NASA estimated that between 1 and 1 1/2 liters of the iodine-laced water filled his helmet in under an hour. Parmitano said he originally thought the moisture was sweat at the back of his head but soon realized the situation was more serious as it spread to his mouth and later his eyes. The spacewalk was immediately halted, the first time for such an abrupt ending since an incident in the 1960's.
The first Italian spacewalker kept spirits high after the dangerous episode. Once safe, Mission Control questioned Cassidy on Parmitano's health. Instead, he chimed right in.
"Just so you know, I'm alive and I can answers those questions, too,' he said with a smile. Parmitano later tweeted, "Thanks for all the positive thoughts!"