Friday, March 18, 2011

First Spacewalk

In 1965 a Russian Voskhad 3KD Spacecraft launched.  It was manned by Pavel Belyaev and Alexei Leonov.  On the 18th March 1965 cosmonaut  Aleksei Leonov became the first person to walk in space.

Alexei was out of the spacecraft for 12 minutes and 9 seconds.  He was joined by a 5.35 meter tether to the spacecraft.  It was later released that the spacewalk (float) would have ended in disaster had Alexei not undergone extensive training and been a quick thinker.  When he reached the spacecraft's airlock  Alexei realized that his space suit had inflated, the only solution was to deflate the suit and in doing so release the pressure that was building up.  A dangerous maneuver due to the time scale in which his body had to react and adapt the the strains being placed upon it. In his weakened state Alexei could only just manage to climb back inside the spacecraft.

The first US Astronaut spacewalk was on the 3rd June 1965, during the Gemini 4 mission manned by Ed White and James McDivitt ). Ed White went a total of 48 meters (3 x his 8 meter tether) and was out in space for 23 minutes.

Image Credit:
Commander James McDivit, Nasa
Following these spacewalks the possibility of space stations and humans working and living in space became more than just a possibility.

The space program has helped develop many technologies that we take for granted: ceramic hobs; satellite tv; wireless signals; weather monitoring; gps locating and mapping. These and other innovative experiments are still ongoing. The most recent spacewalk took place at the  International Space Station on the 16th February 2011.  Dmitry Kondratyev and Oleg Skripochka (Expedition 26 Flight Engineers) were outside for 4 hours and 51 minutes. Their mission to install a pair of earthquake and lightning sensing experiments and to retrieve a pair of spacecraft material evaluation panels.  

It is amazing to see what has been achieved in the last 46 years and encouraging to  wonder what the future will hold.

 A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step - Confucius 

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