The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) celebrates 50 years of spacewalking, or Extravehicular Activity (EVA) with a slogan: “#SuitUp”. The United States government agency, which responsible for the civilian space program as well as aeronautics and aerospace research, will be celebrating accomplishments throughout the year 2015.
The announcement from NASA:
“Throughout the year, we will be celebrating accomplishments like these with a look towards the future. Specifically, how spacewalking enhances our exploration capabilities and enables humans to go deeper into the solar system in part by suiting up! Two important dates to remember are March 18, the anniversary of the first spacewalk by Soviet cosmonaut Alexei Leonov who left his Voskhod-2 vehicle for a 12-minute tethered walk, and June 3, when NASA’s Ed White exited his Gemini-4 capsule using a hand-held oxygen jet gun to push himself from the hatch for a 23-minute tethered spacewalk. So, #SuitUp with us throughout the year and join us for the #JourneytoMars.”
Extravehicular activity (EVA) is any activity done by an astronaut or cosmonaut outside a spacecraft beyond the Earth’s appreciable atmosphere. The term most commonly applies to a spacewalk made outside a craft orbiting Earth (such as the International Space Station), but also has applied to lunar surface exploration (commonly known as moonwalks) performed by six pairs of American astronauts in the Apollo program from 1969 to 1972.
The first skywalker was the Soviet cosmonaut Alexey Arkhipovich Leonov. He became the first human to conduct extra-vehicular activity (EVA) on March 18, 1965; exiting the capsule during the Voskhod 2 mission for a 12-minute spacewalk.
On June 3, 1965, Edward Higgins White became the first American to “walk” in space. His Extravehicular Activity (EVA) time was 36-minute with the Gemini-4 mission.
The first woman to perform a space walk was the Soviet cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya: on July 25, 1984, she conducted an EVA outside the Salyut 7 space station for 3 hours 35 minutes during which she cut and welded metals in space along with her colleague Vladimir Dzhanibekov. She was also the second woman in space some 19 years after the Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova.
The first American woman to walk in space was Kathryn Dwyer Sullivan, her EVA time was 3 hours 29 minutes during Space Shuttle Challenger mission STS-41-G on October 11, 1984. They operated a system designed to show that a satellite could be refueled in orbit.
The record of cumulative spacewalk time currently held by Anatoly Solovyev of the Russian Federal Space Agency, with 82:22 hours from 16 EVAs, followed by NASA’s Michael Lopez-Alegria with 67:40 hours in 10 EVAs.