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
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.