Friday, June 3, 2005

3 June 1965

Today is the 40th anniversary of the first walk in space by a U.S. astronaut, Lieutenant-Colonel (USAF) Edward H. White, II, of the spacecraft Gemini IV. Tethered to the spacecraft, and carrying a camera to record some stunning photographs of Earth, plus a "zip gun" propulsion device to move himself around, Colonel White enjoyed his fifteen minute walk outside the capsule so much that Mission Control had to prompt him rather emphatically to come back inside: “Gemini IV, Get Back In !” Colonel White’s crewmate, James McDivitt, didn’t get an opportunity to go outside, having to content himself with watching and relaying messages from the ground.

Colonel White died a tragically untimely death: killed in the Apollo 204 disaster, 27 January 1967. Just 36 years old at the time of his death, he left a wife and two children.

1 comment:

MerryMadMonk said...

Leads me to recall Gene Cernan's account of his first space walk in Last Man on the Moon.

He had a hell of a time. Untangling himself from the lifeline cables took up a lot of his walk and when it was time to re-enter the capsule, he went thru another ordeal: trying to get the hatch closed.

His pressurized spacesuit was not very flexible and he couldn't easily get into a sitting position inside the capsule. His head was sticking up just enough to prevent closing the hatch. Return to Earth would not be possible until he got that hatch closed. What to do?

One of the options considered by Houston was to have a fellow astronaut (I can't remember his name) break Cernan's legs. This caused Cernan to exert even more effort to work his way down far enough to get that blasted hatch door closed. Of course, he finally did, but not without paying a physical price that kept him in the hospital for a number of weeks. Better than the alternative to be sure.

Cernan's book is the best astronaut biography I've ever read. If you haven't already read it, I highly recommend.