NASA is marking 20 years since one among its astronauts emerged for the primary time from the Worldwide Area Station’s Quest airlock into the chilly void of house.
The historic spacewalk — or extravehicular exercise (EVA) as they’re formally recognized — occurred on July 21, 2001, and was one among greater than 240 which have taken place exterior the orbiting outpost over time.
Earlier EVAs performed on the ISS from 1998 by early 2001 concerned its development, with NASA’s house shuttle transporting many components of the liveable satellite tv for pc into orbit.
For the reason that Quest airlock noticed its first use twenty years in the past, common EVAs have been used for upkeep and improve work, with astronauts from greater than 10 international locations collaborating.
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 “enormous expertise” that concerned years of preparation.
Happening on the anniversary of the primary moonwalk, Gernhardt remembered the “large rush” he felt as he emerged from the airlock for the primary time — although he stated this was primarily as a result of the expertise made him really feel like he was about to fall to Earth 250 miles under.
The NASA astronaut stated that in these early EVAs he and his fellow crew members developed many instruments and gadgets which might be nonetheless used at the moment, together with a particular bag for carrying gear, and a physique restraint tether utilized by astronauts to shortly safe themselves when shifting to a brand new spot exterior the station.
Whereas spacewalks actually carry dangers for astronauts, NASA’s wonderful coaching strategies, security procedures, and punctiliously designed gear make sure that harmful incidents are few and much between. Fortunately nobody has died or been badly injured throughout an EVA on the house station, however there have been plenty of unnerving occasions over the past 20 years.
Maybe probably the most critical 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 personal astonishing account of the incident, Parmitano revealed that whereas working exterior the ISS, blobs of water began entering into his nostril, mouth, and eyes, messing up his imaginative and prescient and, extra worryingly, stopping him from respiratory correctly. Thankfully, Parmitano’s calm response and intensive coaching allowed him to make it again to the airlock safely, the place the problem, put all the way down to a contaminated fan pump contained in the spacesuit, was safely resolved.
Looking forward to future spacewalks, Gernhardt stated 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 stated, will probably be geared far more towards science and exploration reasonably than the type of upkeep and improve work that we normally see on the ISS.
The primary American to stroll in house was Ed White in 1965. Take a look at how he regarded through the historic occasion and likewise get pleasure from a gallery of different gorgeous photos exhibiting spacewalks from over time.