“Walking in space”, or spacewalking,
is a peculiar activity. It consists, for an astronaut, to don a spacesuit,
open a hatch and “walk” outside his ship. Of course, he (or she) is not
walking, since he floats in weightlessness. As reported by many of them,
it is one of the most thrilling experience we could dream of: just to float
like a bird and see the Earth and the Universe through a faceplate is beyond
any descriptions! But it is also one of the most dangerous space activity.
Any problem with the spacesuit – especially a puncture – could cost the
life of the walker in a minute. There is also the risk of floating away
from the spaceship; being in the vacuum of space, it is impossible for
the walker to swim back. The astronaut would thus be lost forever in space.
Fortunately, this never happenned. So, a spacewalker is ALWAYS tethered
to his ship. For all of these reasons, no one ever venture outside a spaceship
for the fun of it. Every spacewalk is carefully prepared months in advance
and every spacewalker trained for years in pool, simply to learn how to
“walk” in space.
At the dawn of the Space Age,
in the 1950s, engineers and scientists thought that working outside a spaceship
would be an easy task. They even envisioned that, one day, dozen of spacewalkers
would go outside giant spacecrafts to work as construction workers do on
Earth. But, the first spacewalkers, in 1965-66, soon discovered that the
simplest tasks are awfully difficult to do because you’re inside a stiff
spacesuit and floating. These first men nearly lost their lives while outside
their ship! Their experience changed forever our vision. For this reason,
even after nearly fifty years of spacewalking, this activity remains exceptional
and is made by only two astronauts at a time. You don’t go out in space
simply to walk and work as everyday people do on Earth!
This special section presents
the 350+ spacewalks done since 1965 in two different ways. First, a series
of summary tables (below) presents an overview of spacewalks by programs
(Gemini, Apollo… ISS). Clicking on the link at the (extreme) left or right
of each spacewalk brings you to a detailed description
of this walk. In fact, you’re then on a web page which describes every
one of the 350+ spacewalks done to date. This page could be read like an
illustrated history of spacewalking. Of course, these pages are updated
as soon as a new spacewalk occurred.
Note that we casually said “spacewalking”,
although the walker float outside his spaceship. For the professionals,
this activity is called EVA (pronounced: E.V.A.), for extra-vehicular activity
(an activity outside a spacecraft). For convenience, we used both terms.
Note also that a dozen men had walked on the Moon, which is much more easy
than spacewalking since the gravity of the Moon simplified their movement
and work. These men had really walked on the Moon!
One of the most fantastic experience: floating in space.
Spacewalkers trained in pool to simulate working in space suit outside
In the 1950s, we envisioned dozen of construction workers assembling