On This Day 51 Years ago – The First American Space-Walk

On 3rd June 1965 Edward Higgins White became the first American to conduct a space-walk.

The EVA took place during the Gemini 4 mission. The space-walk started at 3:45pm EDT on the third orbit when Ed White opened the hatch and used the hand-held manoeuvring unit (oxygen jet gun) to push himself out of the capsule.

The EVA started over the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii and lasted 23 minutes, ending over the Gulf of Mexico. Initially, Ed White propelled himself to the end of the 8-meter tether and back to the space craft three times using the hand-held manoeuvring unit . After the first three minutes the fuel ran out and Ed White manoeuvred by twisting his body and pulling on the tether.

First American space walk 1965
In this photograph taken by Commander James McDivitt early in the EVA over a cloud-covered Pacific Ocean, the manoeuvring unit is visible in Ed White‘s right hand. The visor of his helmet is gold-plated to protect him from the unfiltered rays of the sun. Click on the picture to see the original NASA article . . .

Although the Russian cosmonaut Alexey Arkhipovich Leonov was the first human to do a space-walk 10 weeks earlier on 18th March 1965, the EVA was barely successful. He was outside the space craft for 12 minutes and nine seconds connected to it by a 5.35-meter tether. At the end of the space-walk, Alexey Leonov‘s space suit had inflated in the vacuum of space to the point where he could not re-enter the airlock. He opened a valve to allow some of the air in the suit to escape and was barely able to get back inside the capsule alive. Alexey Leonov‘ had spent eighteen months undergoing intensive weightlessness training for the mission . . .

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