NASA takes a stroll through 50 years of spacewalk history
NASA has marked half a century of spacewalks by rolling out a catalog of breathtaking photos taken across decades of extravehicular activity. June 3 marks 50 years to the day that Edward H. White II stepped out into the emptiness of space in 1965, blazing a trail for generations of NASA astronauts to follow.
White ventured out into space from NASA's Gemini IV spacecraft, but he wasn't the first human to step outside a spacecraft in orbit. Only months earlier, on March 18, 1965, Russian cosmonaut Alexei Leonov took the first space walk, pipping the Americans and their exploratory aspirations at the post.
Almost two decades after White spent 20 minutes making his way around the outside of the Gemini spacecraft, countryman Bruce McCandless made another huge leap.
As part of the STS-41B mission aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger, McCandless would depart the spacecraft to perform the first untethered spacewalk. This was made possible by way of a nitrogen-propelled, hand-controlled jetpack known as the Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU), which allowed McCandless to move around in open space.
NASA astronauts have now completed hundreds of spacewalks. This includes 21 spacewalks on the surface of the Moon, 184 strolls outside the International Space Station, 82 walks outside of space shuttle airlocks and 166 hours logged servicing the Hubble Space Telescope.
These days, NASA is turning its attention to developing more advanced spacesuits that can handle travel into deep space, namely a trip to Mars.
You can see some of the many highlights of NASA's 50 year history of spacewalking in the spectacular photo gallery.
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For decades, NASA has been studying astronaut’s physiological responses to zero gravity, to living in outer space and to staying in a space vehicles and space stations for extended periods of time. NASA recently conducted under water research since the environment provides some useful similarities to working in space. Using off the shelf technology, developed by THOUGHT TECHNOLOGY LTD of Montreal. The device is a wearable outfit that records multiple physiological measurements simultaneously. The technology is ultra miniaturized, using a standard FlexComp Infiniti™ physiological encoder, storing the data using flash memory cards. The astronauts, Commander Dave Williams, a Canadian Physician, and Ron Garin, an American, wore the “gear” throughout the day while living in an NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) undersea habitat, off the shore of Key Largo Florida, 65 feet down, below the surface.NASA researcher William Toscano described the mission, “Our project was called Nemo Nine. It was 22 days long, with 2 astronauts participating. They wore the FlexComp Infiniti™ system for three of the mission days. What we were looking was the effect of isolation, workload and fatigue on the individuals. We’re using the Nemo Nine environment as an analog of a space station.”
It was all stored on flash memory cards, “We recorded five measurements–heart rate and electrocardiogram, respiration, skin conductance, hand temperature and finger pulse volume. Throughout the day they had activities and tasks to do.” New, micro-miniaturization technologies have enabled NASA researchers to use commercially produced biomedical devices like the FlexComp Infiniti™ to do what used to take a wall full of equipment easily weighing over 1000 pounds. Now, the device, manufactured by Thought Technology a company that is the world’s largest provider of medical and consumer biofeedback instrumentation, weighs less than a pound and has built-in data storage using flash memory cards. http://www.thoughttechnology.com/blog/wp/?works=what-helps-give-canadas-dave-williams-a-steady-hand-in-space