NASA is marking 20 years since one among its astronauts emerged for the primary time from the International Space Station’s Quest airlock into the chilly void of area.
The historic spacewalk — or extravehicular exercise (EVA) as they’re formally recognized — befell on July 21, 2001, and was one among greater than 240 which have taken place exterior the orbiting outpost through the years.
Earlier EVAs carried out on the ISS from 1998 by means of early 2001 concerned its development, with NASA’s area shuttle transporting many components of the liveable satellite tv for pc into orbit.
Since the Quest airlock noticed its first use twenty years in the past, common EVAs have been used for maintenance and upgrade work, with astronauts from greater than 10 nations participating.
In a video (above) posted by NASA this week, astronaut Mike Gernhardt, whose three ISS spacewalks included the primary one from the station’s Quest airlock 20 years in the past, described that individual EVA as a “huge experience” that concerned years of preparation.
Taking place on the anniversary of the primary moonwalk, Gernhardt remembered the “big rush” he felt as he emerged from the airlock for the primary time — although he mentioned this was primarily as a result of the expertise made him really feel like he was about to fall to Earth 250 miles beneath.
The NASA astronaut mentioned that in these early EVAs he and his fellow crew members developed many instruments and gadgets which are nonetheless used as we speak, together with a particular bag for carrying tools, and a physique restraint tether utilized by astronauts to rapidly safe themselves when transferring to a brand new spot exterior the station.
While spacewalks actually carry dangers for astronauts, NASA’s wonderful coaching strategies, security procedures, and thoroughly designed tools make sure that harmful incidents are few and much between. Thankfully nobody has died or been badly injured throughout an EVA on the area station, however there have been a variety of unnerving occasions over the past 20 years.
Perhaps probably the most severe of those concerned Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano who nearly drowned throughout a spacewalk in 2013 when his helmet began to inexplicably fill with water. In his own astonishing account of the incident, Parmitano revealed that whereas working exterior the ISS, blobs of water began stepping into his nostril, mouth, and eyes, messing up his imaginative and prescient and, extra worryingly, stopping him from respiratory correctly. Fortunately, Parmitano’s calm response and intensive coaching allowed him to make it again to the airlock safely, the place the difficulty, put all the way down to a contaminated fan pump contained in the spacesuit, was safely resolved.
Looking forward to future spacewalks, Gernhardt mentioned many will happen on the moon within the coming years when NASA sends the subsequent man and first lady to the lunar floor within the first crewed go to since 1972. These walks, the astronaut mentioned, will probably be geared far more towards science and exploration somewhat than the sort of upkeep and improve work that we often see on the ISS.
The first American to stroll in area was Ed White in 1965. Check out how he looked in the course of the historic occasion and in addition get pleasure from a gallery of different beautiful photographs exhibiting spacewalks from through the years.