Tim Peake’s historic first walk in space was ended early after a water bubble was detected in the helmet of his colleague Tim Kopra.
The British astronaut helped complete the crew’s primary task of repairing a broken voltage regulator and headed back to the airlock on the International Space Station (ISS). Both astronauts were safe, according to the ISS.
Major Peake, 43, became the first Briton to ever complete a Extra-Vehicular Activity (EVA) – or spacewalk – and was undertaking a maintenance operation with the American Colonel Kopra.
After the operation was terminated by the lead Flight Director, Major Peake and Colonel Kopra were told to spend some time cleaning up their tools before heading to safety.
The spacewalk, which had been set to last six-and-a-half hours, was endedaround four hours and 10 minutes in.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) said the termination was a precaution.
Tweeting from its official account, it said: “As a precaution, spacewalk terminated due to small amount of water in Tim’s helmet.”
Earlier Major Peake, from Chichester, West Sussex, told of his pride in stepping into space with the Union flag on his space suit.
He is on a six-month mission with the European Space Agency (ESA).
Live footage showed both astronauts safely returning to the airlock area of theISS and the thermal cover being closed behind them.
Once in the main body of the station, their colleagues inside will help with a 25-minute clean-up and further checks.
Guided by ground staff in Houston, the pair successfully replaced the broken power box with a spare unit. They inspected the broken equipment and found no damage, meaning the fault was likely internal.
The astronauts performed a number of other maintenance tasks before being called back early.
As the airlock re-pressurised, the ESA said the early termination of thespacewalk was officially completed at 17.31 GMT, four hours and 43 minutes in.
Colonel Kopra offered his thanks to the ground staff for ensuring their safety, a sentiment echoed by Major Peake.
He added: “Thank you very much, I just want to reiterate Tim’s words there, you guys have done a great job, thanks for everybody’s support.”
Colonel Kopra’s helmet-absorption pad, along with a sample of the water bubble taken with a syringe, will be analysed to determine what caused it to form.Colonel Kopra was brought into the equipment lock area of the station first andhad his helmet removed, before being joined by Major Peake.Crew member Scott Kelly photographed Major Peake’s gloves for “future reference and inspection”, the ESA said, before his helmet was removed too.Earlier, Major Peake’s parents, Nigel and Angela Peake, beamed with pride as they watched their son’s progress from their living room in Westbourne, Emsworth, Hampshire.Mr Peake said: “It’s amazing, the photographs from space are incredible.”For us, we have immense pride, but also immense gratitude to all the people who are supporting Tim and the other astronauts.”