March 18th marked 50 years since Alexei Leonov of the former Soviet Union floated beyond the bounds of his Voskhod 2 space capsule in the world’s first spacewalk. During his 10-minute extravehicular activity (EVA), Leonov changed the way humans exist in the universe. No longer were we bound to the ground of our home planet, or even the manmade grounds of our space vehicles—we could be in the universe on our own, with only the thin protection of a spacesuit between our skin and the raw expanse of the cosmos. The ability to fly outside a spacecraft was also critical for many of humankind’s greatest achievements in space, such as walking on the moon, repairing the Hubble Space Telescope and other satellites in orbit, and assembling the International Space Station. These days NASA, the Russian Federal Space Agency and even the China National Space Administration, are old pros at managing spacewalks—sometimes complicated maneuvers that last hours and feature multiple astronauts. But back on March 18, 1965, Leonov was flying, literally, into unknown territory. As he told The Smithsonian’s Air and Space Magazine in 2005, even his family did not know he would be making the spacewalk until it happened, prompting his four-year-old daughter, watching him on TV, to wail, “Please tell Daddy to get back inside.” w. And the lack of atmospheric pressure out in space caused Leonov’s suit to deform in unexpected ways, making it difficult for him to reenter his spacecraft and putting his life at risk. He managed, however, and racked up an important success in the space race, beating the Americans by less than three months (Ed White made the first U.S. spacewalk on June 3, 1965, from Gemini 4). We have come a long way since then, and still have a long way to go, in our quest to live and work seamlessly in space. Below are the greatest hits of spacewalking history—you can see a slideshow of these feats here:
Click Here: 50 Years of Walking Through Space
via Scientific American.