I Was Among the Lucky Few to Walk in Space

Ed White performing the first EVA by an American during Gemini IV in 1965. Jim McDivitt took this photograph. (NASA)
International Space Station’s Canadarm2 is used to help Robinson during the mission’s third session of extravehicular activity (EVA). (NASA)
Expedition 35 Flight Engineers Chris Cassidy (pictured) and Tom Marshburn (out of frame) completed a spacewalk on May 11, 2013, to inspect and replace a pump controller box on the International Space Station. A leak of ammonia coolant from the area near or at the location of a Pump and Flow Control Subassembly was detected on Thursday, May 9, prompting engineers and flight controllers to begin plans to support the spacewalk. The device contains the mechanical systems that drive the cooling functions for the port truss. (NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center)
Astronaut Stephen K. Robinson photographs his helmet visor. (NASA)
Astronauts Greg Chamitoff (here) and Michael Fincke, both STS-134 mission specialists, spent seven hours and 24-minutes on this EVA. (NASA)
NASA astronaut Nicholas Patrick, STS-130 mission specialist, participates in the mission’s third and final session of extravehicular activity (EVA) as construction and maintenance continue on the International Space Station. During the five-hour, 48-minute spacewalk on February 17, 2010, Patrick and astronaut Robert Behnken (out of frame), mission specialist, completed all of their planned tasks, removing insulation blankets and removing launch restraint bolts from each of the Cupola’s seven windows. (NASA)
On February 7, 1984 during Space Shuttle mission STS 41-B, astronaut Bruce McCandless made the first untethered spacewalk as he flew some 300 feet from the Shuttle in the first test of the MMU. This image was taken several days later on February 11. (NASA)
During the six-hour, eight-minute spacewalk, Sergey Ryazanskiy and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kotov (out of frame), commander, completed the installation of a pair of high fidelity cameras that experienced connectivity issues during the Dec. 27 spacewalk, and retrieved scientific gear outside the station’s Russian segment. (NASA)
Gene Cernan’s gloves from Apollo 17 were constructed of an outer shell of Chromel-R fabric with thermal insulation to provide protection while handling extremely hot or cold objects. The blue fingertips were made of silicone rubber to provide sensitivity. The inner glove was of a rubber/neoprene compound, into which the restraint system was integrated, and they attached to the spacesuit using the same mechanism as the intra-vehicular gloves. (National Air and Space Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution)
Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, lunar module pilot, walks on the surface of the Moon near the leg of the Lunar Module (LM) “Eagle” during the Apollo 11 exravehicular activity (EVA). Astronaut Neil A. Armstrong, commander, took this photograph with a 70mm lunar surface camera. While astronauts Armstrong and Aldrin descended in the Lunar Module (LM) “Eagle” to explore the Sea of Tranquility region of the Moon, astronaut Michael Collins, command module pilot, remained with the Command and Service Modules (CSM) “Columbia” in lunar orbit. (NASA)
Scientist-astronaut Harrison H. Schmitt is photographed seated in the Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV). He drove the vehicle approximately 35 kilometers (22 miles) while on the Moon for the Apollo 17 mission. (NASA)
Gene Cernan’s helmet from his A7-LB spacesuit on Apollo 17. (National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution)
Wearing special lunar boot overshoes, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin stepped onto the moon on July 20, 1969, and made this now-famous footprint. (NASA)

On July 31, 1971, Al Worden performed the first deep-space extra-vehicular activity. “No one in all of history” saw what he saw that day



Editor’s note, March 18, 2020: Astronaut Al Worden died Tuesday, March 17, at the age of 88. In a statement on Worden’s Twitter account, family members said the command module pilot of Apollo 13 and the 12th man to walk in space had died in his sleep. In 2015, on the occasion of the publication of his memoir Falling to Earth: An Apollo 15 Astronaut’s Journey to the Moon

from Smithsonian Books, Worden wrote this essay about his experience floating “free in deep space.”

Apollo 15 was the first flight to the moon that included a space walk. On our return trip to Earth, we needed to recover film canisters from the service module where they were part of the Scientific Instrument Module Bay (SIM Bay). Because it was a new activity an incredible amount of preparation went in to the procedures and the equipment required to make it safe and efficient.

Also, because I was assigned to the flight after these procedures and equipment were identified and developed, I needed to evaluate the entire plan for the Extra-Vehicular Activity in terms of safety and results. So I changed the equipment and slightly altered the procedures to simplify the process. During our preflight analysis, we installed a warning tone in the suit in the event of low oxygen pressure or flow and we simplified the method of returning the canisters to the Command Module. Rather than use a complicated clothesline rigging method to return the canisters, we chose instead for me to simply hand carry the canisters back to Jim Irwin, who remained waiting in the hatch. Once all this preflight work was accomplished, the actual space walk was easy and accomplished in a short time. I had the pleasure of being outside the spacecraft for 38 minutes, and here’s how we did it.

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