Speaking Of Spacewalks

The word space means space, and walk means movement. A spacewalk is when an astronaut exits a spacecraft while in space. Spacewalks are sometimes called EVAs or extravehicular activities.

On March 18, 1965, the first spacewalk in history was done by Russian cosmonaut Alexei Lenov. That spacewalk was about 10 minutes long. A few months later, Ed White became the first American astronaut to complete a spacewalk. White spacewalked for about 23 minutes.

Today, astronauts usually spacewalk from the International Space Station. The International Space Station is operated under agreements between various international space agencies to conduct missions in space. How long the astronauts will spacewalk depends on the task for which the spacewalk is performed. But on average each spacewalk takes 5 to 8 hours.

Russian astronaut Anatoly Soloviev has set the world record for the most spacewalks so far. He has spent more than 82 hours or 3.5 days in space through a total of 16 spacewalks.

Why Do Astronauts Spacewalk?

Astronauts do spacewalks for a variety of reasons. Spacewalking allows you to do various things outside of the spacecraft while in space. For example, astronauts can do spacewalking to conduct scientific research that needs to be done outside of spaceships. Through this, scientists can get a clearer idea of ​​how the space environment affects various things.

Also, astronauts do spacewalking to test new equipment. Astronauts have to perform spacewalking to repair various parts of satellites or spacecraft while in space. This eliminates the need to bring any equipment or parts to Earth for repair.

How Do Astronauts Go On Spacewalks?

Before spacewalking, astronauts wear special clothing or spacesuits for walking in space. Spacesuits contain enough oxygen to breathe and water to drink.

Astronauts don spacesuits a few hours before going on a spacewalk. And the spacesuit’s air pressure is controlled by injecting a certain amount of gas. Astronauts breathe pure oxygen for several hours after donning a spacesuit.

Consuming only oxygen with breathing removes nitrogen from astronauts’ bodies. If the nitrogen in the body is not removed, gas bubbles can form in the astronauts’ bodies during space travel. Astronauts can experience pain in areas such as their shoulders, elbows, wrists and knees when these gas bubbles form. People who have to stay under water for a long time can also experience this pain for the same reason.

After preparing for the spacewalk, the astronauts exit the spacecraft through special doors called ‘airlocks’. An ‘airlock’ system usually has two doors. When the astronauts are inside the spacecraft, both airlock doors are closed.

During the spacewalk, the astronauts first exited by opening the first airlock door. The door was closed immediately after exiting. After that, the second door opened and the astronauts exited the spacecraft. In this way, no air can escape from the spacecraft. At the end of the spacewalk, the astronauts entered the spacecraft in the same way.

How Do Astronauts Stay Safe During Spacewalks?

During spacewalking, astronauts stay close to the spacecraft through a specially designed safety harness. This safety rope actually works like a rope. One end of it is connected to the spacewalking astronaut, the other end is connected to the spacecraft. Being tethered by a safety rope, there is no fear of drifting off into space. Astronauts also use safety lanyards to keep their equipment close to them. During spacewalking, astronauts’ belongings are usually attached to their spacesuits by safety cords.

Astronauts also use a gadget called SAFER to stay safe during spacewalking. The full form of SAFER is ‘Simplified Aid for EVA Rescue’. The gadget is slung on the astronauts’ backs like a backpack. These include miniature jet thrusters, which can be used to propel astronauts short distances in space. If the safety tether attached to someone becomes detached, they can be returned to the spacecraft via SAFER. SAFER can be controlled with a small joystick, similar to what is used to play video games.

How Do Astronauts Train For Spacewalking?

Before spacewalking, astronauts have to undergo training. And one of the ways to train is to learn through swimming. Floating in space is a lot like floating in water. Astronauts usually train in giant swimming pools.

NASA astronauts train at the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory in Texas, USA at a large Panighera facility. There, astronauts spend 7 hours training for every 1 hour of spacewalking in about 6.2 million gallons of water.

Another way to train for spacewalking is to practice through virtual reality. It’s like playing a video game. To train in this way, astronauts first wear a helmet with a video screen and specially made gloves.

An image of what they see while spacewalking continues on a screen inside the helmet. Again, the astronaut’s body movements through the gloves are also visible through the helmet. As a result, this virtual reality simulation technology feels like a real spacewalk to the astronauts.

Picture. Astronaut Edward H. White the second. He was the pilot of the Gemini-Titan 4 (or GT-4) spacecraft. He is floating in space in the absence of gravity during the third rotation of the GT-4 spacecraft.

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