Science & Exploration

50 years of spacewalks

18/03/2015 7083 views
ESA / Science & Exploration / Human and Robotic Exploration / Highlights

On 18 March 1965 Russian cosmonaut Alexei Leonov became the first person to perform a spacewalk, when he ventured from his Voskhod spacecraft. The sortie was not without problems: Leonov’s spacesuit expanded in the vacuum of space so much that he was unable to squeeze back into the spacecraft. Taking a hair-raising decision, he opened a valve on the suit to let enough air escape for him to enter the airlock. His spacewalk lasted only 12 minutes but proved that astronauts could work outside a spacecraft.

Less than three months later, American Ed White made the first NASA spacewalk as part of the Gemini 4 mission; it lasted 21 minutes.

The first European to do a spacewalk was the French spationaute Jean-Loup Chrétien, who flew to the Russian Mir space station in 1988. His sortie lasted six hours – a record at the time.

The first spacewalk by an ESA astronaut was made by Thomas Reiter from Mir in 1995 in a Russian Orlan suit. Eleven years later Thomas flew to the International Space Station and performed another spacewalk, this time in NASA’s Extravehicular Mobility Unit,  making him one of only two astronauts to use both types.

The most recent spacewalk by an ESA astronaut was Alexander Gerst during his Blue Dot mission in 2014. All ESA astronauts take general spacewalk training to learn how to use the spacesuits and work in weightlessness.

In the 50 years since Leonov’s first spacewalk, more than 200 astronauts from 10 countries have left their spacecraft to work outside.

  • Science & Exploration

    Christer Fuglesang participates in the third STS-128 spacewalk

    07/09/2009 1971 views 7 likes
    Open item
    Christer Fuglesang spacewalk
  • Agency

    The first cosmonauts

    02/04/2007 645 views 7 likes
    Open item
    The first cosmonauts
  • Science & Exploration

    Ed White spacewalk

    18/03/2015 819 views 6 likes
    Open item
    Ed White spacewalk
  • Science & Exploration

    Testing astronaut jetpack

    18/03/2015 909 views 6 likes
    Open item
    Testing astronaut jetpack
  • Science & Exploration

    Jean-Loup Chrétien spacewalk

    18/03/2015 773 views 3 likes
    Open item
    Jean-Loup Chrétien spacewalk
  • Science & Exploration

    The first spacewalk for an ESA astronaut took place during Euromir 95

    18/04/2002 442 views 3 likes
    Open item
    The first spacewalk for an ESA astronaut took place during Euromir 95
  • Science & Exploration

    Thomas Reiter works on a cooling line in the S1 truss of the International Space Station

    07/08/2006 856 views 7 likes
    Open item
    Thomas Reiter works on a cooling line of the International Space Station
  • Science & Exploration

    Fuglesang during operations to relocate two CETA carts

    19/12/2006 738 views 4 likes
    Open item
    Fuglesang during operations to relocate two CETA carts
  • Science & Exploration

    ESA astronaut Hans Schlegel works on Columbus exterior during the second spacewalk of the STS-122 mission

    15/02/2008 927 views 5 likes
    Open item
    ESA astronaut Hans Schlegel during spacewalk
  • Science & Exploration

    Alexander moving inside of the module mockup

    12/08/2010 905 views 8 likes
    Open item
    Alexander moving inside of the module mockup
  • Science & Exploration

    Thomas Pesquet EVA training

    24/06/2013 516 views 5 likes
    Open item
    Thomas Pesquet EVA training
  • Science & Exploration

    Columbus is visible in the reflection

    11/07/2013 1652 views 8 likes
    Open item
    Luca’s spacewalk selfie
  • Science & Exploration

    Critical Situation

    19/08/2013 60221 views 122 likes
    Open item
  • Science & Exploration

    Alexei Leonov and Alexander Gerst

    18/03/2015 597 views 2 likes
    Open item
    Alexei Leonov and Alexander Gerst
  • Agency

    Alexander Gerst spacewalk with module

    18/03/2015 437 views 3 likes
    Open item
    Alexander Gerst spacewalk with module
  • Science & Exploration

    Tim inspecting Orlan suit

    08/08/2012 901 views 4 likes
    Open item
    Tim inspecting Orlan suit
  • Science & Exploration

    Space Station spacesuit

    31/10/2014 1136 views 6 likes
    Open item
    Space Station spacesuit
  • Science & Exploration

    Orlan spacesuit on Space Station

    18/03/2015 438 views 3 likes
    Open item
    Orlan spacesuit on Space Station