Hailing 50 spectacular years of spacewalking

Many have taken the plunge outside the their spacecraft to fix problems, make adjustments and even hit a golf ball. Take a look at some of the milestones of spacewalking.

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REUTERS/NASA/Handout via Reuters

Space walk

It had to be quite the rush. The first spacewalk, or extravehicular activity (EVA) happened March 18, 1965, when cosmonaut Alexei Leonov first departed the Soviet Union's Voskhod 2 spacecraft to test the idea – he stayed out about 10 minutes.   American Edward White II took the US’ first spacewalk that year in June stepping out of the Gemini IV spacecraft. Since that time many have taken the plunge outside the their spacecraft to fix problems, make adjustments and even hit a golf ball, as one NASA astronaut did in 2006 – he shanked it. Take a look at some of the milestones of spacewalking.

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America's first spacewalk

Astronaut Ed White performed the first American spacewalk during the Gemini 4 mission on June 3, 1965.

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Sticking out

From 1969 Apollo 9 astronaut David Scott stands inside the Apollo capsule with the hatch open. The Apollo 9 mission tested the docking of two spacecraft that would later take astronauts to the moon.

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Fixing the problem

Skylab astronaut Owen Garriott works outside Skylab, America's first space station. Spacewalks on Skylab were the first time astronauts went outside to fix a problem with their spacecraft, NASA said.

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Floating tool

It might be obvious but tools must be tethered in space. Astronauts always make sure their tools are connected to their spacesuits so the tools don't float away. NASA says EVA astronauts usually handle from 70 to 110 tools, tethers and associated equipment for a typical spacewalk.

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Waling outside the shuttle

Astronaut Story Musgrave works in the payload bay of the space shuttle. Musgrave and astronaut Donald Peterson performed the first extravehicular activity, or spacewalk, outside the space shuttle on STS-6 in 1983.

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Hold on

From 2009, Astronaut Christopher Cassidy is wearing a tether. It connects him to the station so he will not float away. Astronauts are usually tethered to their spacecraft but the first untethered spacewalk was by American astronaut Bruce McCandless II on Feb. 7, 1984.

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Parts is parts

Astronaut John Grunsfeld works on the Hubble Space Telescope during space shuttle mission STS-125 in 2009. During the spacewalks, astronauts replaced parts that were no longer working and added new parts.

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Can’t beat that view

The longest EVA was 8 hours and 56 minutes, performed by Susan J. Helms and James S. Voss during STS-102 on March 11, 2001.

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A long walk

Astronaut Scott Parazynski moves toward a tear in one of the space station's solar array blankets. He is attached to the end of the Orbiter Boom Sensor System, or OBSS. The OBSS is usually attached to the space shuttle robotic arm to make it longer. For this job, it was attached to the Canadarm2 robotic arm on the space station. The ride on the OBSS took 45 minutes from the station to the tear.

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A little paneling job

Astronaut Kathy Thornton releases into space an old solar panel that was removed from the Hubble Space Telescope. The solar panel was damaged and was replaced with a new one.

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Hanging out

Astronaut Carl Meade (left) wears the backpack called SAFER. Astronaut Mark Lee stands connected to the space shuttle robotic arm. SAFER could be used to move an astronaut back to the spacecraft if he or she became untethered from the shuttle or International Space Station. Meade and Lee are almost 150 miles above Earth.

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Outside looking in

Astronaut Scott Parazynski smiles as he peeks into the Destiny Laboratory window on the International Space Station.

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Crane operated

From 1997, Astronaut Takao Doi works with a 156-pound crane outside the space shuttle's cargo bay.

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Learning to fly

Astronaut Bruce McCandless is seen floating above Earth in 1984. He is farther away from the safety of his spaceship than any astronaut had ever been. This was made possible by a jet pack on his back called the Manned Maneuvering Unit, or MMU. McCandless tested the MMU near the space shuttle. He then went "free-flying" to a distance of 320 feet away from the space shuttle.

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Another first

Astronaut Kathryn Sullivan was the first American woman to go on a spacewalk. She was a mission specialist on the STS-41G space shuttle mission.

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Three musketeers

Left to right, astronauts Richard Hieb, Thomas Akers and Pierre Thuot pull a satellite into the space shuttle's cargo bay for repairs. The 1992 STS-49 mission was the first time three astronauts went on a spacewalk together.

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Two Peas in a Pod

In 1995, Astronauts Bernard Harris Jr. (right), and Michael Foale (left) get ready to go on a spacewalk in the airlock of space shuttle Discovery. Harris was the first African-American to walk in space, according to NASA.

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Keep cool

Astronaut Robert Curbeam is wearing a liquid cooling and ventilation garment. This full bodysuit, worn under the spacesuit, keeps astronauts cool during a spacewalk.

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Here Astronaut Piers Sellers is using a foot restraint on the Canadarm2 robotic arm to keep from floating away.

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Astronaut Sunita Williams uses tools to do work outside the International Space Station. Williams was a flight engineer on Expedition 14. She lived on the station for 195 days. She went on four spacewalks for a total of 29 hours and 17 minutes.

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A tool bag used during spacewalks drifts away from the space station. This happened during space shuttle mission STS-126. Grease from a grease gun had leaked into the bag. As the astronaut was cleaning the inside of the bag, it drifted away. The bag later entered Earth's atmosphere and burned up, NASA said.

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Russian cosmonauts Viktor Afanasyev and Sergei Avdeyev made the last spacewalk from the then (1999) 14-year-old Mir space station. Both men spent nearly five-and-a-half hours outside the station installing equipment and finally opening an antenna they could not get to unfold properly during a spacewalk.

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Stowing gear

Spacewalkers Mike Fossum (top) negotiates the International Space Station's Qwest airlock as Piers Sellers stows gear, near the end of their EVA, in this view from NASA TV July 8, 2006.

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Astronaut Soichi Noguchi of Japan waves from the Shuttle payload bay, backdropped by the Earth below, Aug. 1, 2005.

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Got the shanks

A NASA computer graphic shows the position of Mikhail Tyurin when he hits a golf ball during his spacewalk from the International Space Station Nov. 22, 2006. The commercial activity, sponsored by a Canadian golf company through a contract with the Russian Federal Space Agency, was designed to hit the longest golf shot ever made. According to NASA, Tyurin shanked the shot and it did not travel on its intended trajectory.

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Getting dressed

NASA says putting on a spacesuit takes 45 minutes, including the time it takes to put on the special undergarments that help keep astronauts cool. After putting on the spacesuit, to adapt to the lower pressure maintained in the suit, the astronaut must spend a little more than an hour breathing pure oxygen before going outside the pressurized module.

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Historic walks

50 years of spacewalking.


Challenges of Spacewalking Vide.

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