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.”

See #SuitUp page on NASA website

Spacewalking (03)
Floating 250 miles above the earth, attached to safety only by a tether, a single tear in your spacesuit can mean a desperate scramble back to the hatch before the oxygen runs out. It sounds terrifying, right? But according to experienced NASA astronaut Mike Foreman, it’s worth it for the amazing experience of floating weightlessly in space for hours on end.”It’s amazing to be on a spacewalk,” he says. “When you put on that spacesuit and go outside you’re weightless. You have beautiful views of the earth, of the stars, of the outside of the space station, it’s just an amazing feeling.”

What is Spacewalking or Extravehicular activity (EVA)?

Spacewalking or 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 (or spacewalker) was the Soviet cosmonaut Alexey Arkhipovich Leonov. He became the first human to conduct spacewalking or 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 spacewalk 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.

First woman to walk in space - Svetlana Savitskaya
On July 25, 1984, Soviet cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya became the first woman to walk in space. Launched on 19 April 1982, Salyut 7 (English: Salute 7) was a space station in low Earth orbit from April 1982 to February 1991. It was aloft for eight years and ten months (a record not broken until Mir), during which time it was visited by 10 crews constituting six main expeditions and four secondary flights (including French and Indian cosmonauts). On July 25, 1984, cosmonauts Svetlana Savitskaya and Vladimir Dzhanibekov tested one of the most important repair methods ever, welding and brazing metal samples in the vacuum of space. The experiment worked, the system was proven and Savitskaya, in the process, became the first woman to walk in space. She was also the second woman in space since 1963, when Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova launched on the Vostok 6 mission on June 16, 1963.

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 longest spacewalk was performed in 2001 by the NASA astronauts James Voss and Susan Helms. Voss and Helms prepared Pressurized Mating Adapter-3 for repositioning from Unity’s Earth-facing berth to the port-side berth to make room for Leonardo, the Italian Space Agency-built Multi-Purpose Logistics Module. They also removed a Lab Cradle Assembly from Discovery’s payload bay and installed it on the side of Destiny, and installed a cable tray to Destiny for later use by the station’s robot arm (Canadarm2). After re-entering the shuttle’s airlock, Voss and Helms remained ready to assist if any troubles installing the docking port were encountered by the crew inside the shuttle. 

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.

Moonwalking is also Spacewalking
Extravehicular activity (EVA) term is 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.


M. Özgür Nevres

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