NASA usually plans everything to minute details. I have blogged before, for example, about the STS-400 contingency shuttle mission
Now, up in space, comes an impressive low-tech improvisation after an Italian astronaut almost “drowned” in July from moisture flooding his helmet during a space walk.
From Space.com (thanks to reminder from Andrew McCarthy)
"This is your last resort," Bolinger explained, holding up a makeshift snorkel. "If water is encroaching your face, as similar to what happened with Luca in the last EVA, the crew member can lean down and use this to breath fresh oxygen from down near his midsection."
Not that NASA had snorkels just floating around the space station. The astronauts had to "MacGyver" the apparatus that is more commonly associated with ocean divers than spacewalkers.
"We had the crew fabricate these on orbit," Bolinger said. "They basically cut apart the plastic tubing on a water-line vent tube and then attached hook-line Velcro on one side and pile Velcro on the other."
Normally, these tubes are used for piping water to provide cooling around the astronauts' bodies, but team members were inspired by the size of the plastic lines.
"Some smart engineers on the ground were able to figure out, 'Hey! This is a similar diameter to a snorkel that you have for scuba diving,'" Bolinger recalled. "They were able to come up with this ingenious idea."