What’s it like to go on a spacewalk?

Read on to discover the fascinating facts about this extra-vehicular activity


1. Temperatures fluctuate by up to 500 degrees

While on a spacewalk in Earth orbit the temperature changes from a balmy 120 degrees Celsius (250 degrees Fahrenheit) in sunlight to -160 degrees Celsius (-250 degrees Fahrenheit) in darkness. Spacesuits are normally white to reflect light and heat while in the Sun.

2. It takes hours to get ready for a spacewalk

For modern spacewalks it takes about 45 minutes to don the 125-kilogram (280-pound) suit. The astronauts must then spend an hour pre-breathing pure oxygen to adapt to the lower-pressure environment maintained in the suit before heading out of the airlock.

3. The first spacewalk almost ended in disaster

During humanity’s first spacewalk, performed by Soviet Alexei Leonov on the Voskhod 2 mission on 18 March 1965, his suit expanded much more than had been expected and he had to leak air from his suit into space in order to get back into the spacecraft.

4. There has only been one three-person spacewalk in history

The only time three people have simultaneously exited a spacecraft to perform a spacewalk was during Space Shuttle Endeavoatur’s STS-49 mission in May 1992 when Americans Pierre Thuot, Richard Hieb and Thomas Akers captured the Intelsat VI satellite.

5. The longest spacewalk lasted nearly nine hours

NASA astronauts Susan Helms and Jim Voss hold the record for the longest spacewalk in history, set during the ISS Expedition 2 mission when they were outside in the vacuum of space for eight hours and 56 minutes on 11 March 2001.

Image Credit: NASA

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