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Top 10 incredible facts: Spacewalks and Spacesuits

Last Updated: Friday, August 16, 2013 - 22:49

What is a Spacewalk?

Each time an astronaut (or a cosmonaut if Russian) gets out of a spacecraft while in space to do important tasks, it is called a spacewalk — also known as an Extra-vehicular activity (EVA). The term EVA also applies to lunar surface exploration -commonly known as ‘moonwalks’.

1. The first spacewalk, also known as extra-vehicular activity (EVA), was performed by the Soviet Union cosmonaut Alexei Leonov on March 18, 1965. The spacewalk was 10 minutes long.

Edward H. White II became the first American to go on a spacewalk on June 3, 1965, during the Gemini 4 mission. The duration of White’s spacewalk was 23 minutes.

The first woman to perform a spacewalk was cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya during Soyuz T-12 on July 25, 1984, and Katherine Sullivan became the first US woman to walk in space on Oct. 11, 1984.

2. Neil Alden Armstrong was the first man to conduct a spacewalk on the surface of the Moon, also termed as ‘moonwalk’, on July 20, 1969 during the Apollo 11 mission. Armstrong spent about two and a half hours outside the spacecraft.

3. Out of 500 astronauts who have been in space over the past five decades, only just over 200 of them have actually conducted a spacewalk or moonwalk.

5. Depending on the job, spacewalks usually last between five and eight hours.

6. Retired Russian and Soveit cosmonaut Anatoly Solovyev holds the world record for the most spacewalks performed (16) with an accumulated time spent more than 82 hours outside in space.

The US record for the most spacewalks is held by NASA astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria. He has conducted 10 spacewalks and spent more than 67 hours.

7. Till date, only Russia, the United States and China have demonstrated the capability to conduct a spacewalk or EVA.

What is a Spacesuit?

Spacesuit is a garment worn by an astronaut that protects them from the dangers of being outside in space. Spacesuit is in fact a small spacecraft, which also protects astronauts from getting too cold or hot, besides giving oxygen to breathe while working in space. Inside spacesuits, astronauts have the water they need to drink.

8. The first spacesuit worn by a human in space was the Soviet SK-1 suit worn by Yuri Gagarin in 1961. NASA’s first spacesuits were worn only inside the spacecraft during the Mercury program. Mercury was the first time NASA astronauts flew into space.

9. Apollo program spacesuits had boots, enabling astronauts to walk on rocky ground. The Apollo suits also had a life support system. The astronauts could walk far away from their landing module while staying on the lunar surface.

The basic Apollo space suit was also used for spacewalking during the Skylab space station missions.

10. Space Shuttle Program had orange spacesuits called ‘launch and entry suits’, which can be used only inside the Space Shuttle during launching and landing.

Compiled by: Salome Phelamei

First Published: Friday, August 16, 2013 - 20:42
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