Suit Up – 50 Years of Spacewalks

I look down, and the Earth is down here.

Oh, okay.


Hurry, get back and do some more things.

And I had another rest period.

And so, this time, I took one foot out anddid a little agility.

And I looked.

Oh, uh-oh.

The Earth's not there.

Oh, there it is, up there.

To be in the space suit outside and to lookout in any direction was pretty neat.

It's humans out there.

It's humans out here.

It's humans on the frontier.

When I opened the hatch, I mean I had thewhole universe in front of me.

It was spectacular.

Then you sort of poke your head out and fliparound.

And you take a look around.

And, you know, it's really a holy moly kindof moment.

that was when I first learned I think whatthe definition of what it truly is to be alone.

Being in space, being in Earth orbit, floatingis truly a magical experience.

It means an exciting day.

And it means it's a day that's going to bea lot of work, NASA's astronauts and their internationalpartners suit up for modern space walks with training and experience.

Humans suited up.

Leaving the vehicle and going out on spacewalks, exploring and always going into a situation we’ve never been to before to fix something, space station to deploy an experiment or longer term I think of spacewalking on Mars.

Spend a lot of time thinking about how humansare going to explore Mars suited with some new cool technology.

when floating out in the void of space, theyare standing on the shoulders of giants, making new discoveries by building on a prestigiouslegacy.

: Why did the Russians put Sputnik up? Why didn't the US do that? We were shooken-up by Sputnik.

And we marshaled our resources and put togethera winning program.

One of the things that drove us into humanspace flight was fear, was the fear when Sputnik went overhead in 1957 and people began torealize that there was another nation in the world that had the capability of putting somethinginto space that could actually pass over the United States.

That's not a good way to do aClearly our motivation was a race.

It was to beat the Soviets.

And we had to do that for international prestige.

And so, that set us on a sprint to the moon.

We will get to the moon within the decade.

And we did.

But, it didn't set us up for a long-term explorationprogram in space.

Way back in what we called the Terrible '60s, when the country was awash in campus unrest, civil strife, the beginning of a very unpopularwar, the Soviets literally owned space at that point in time.

Yuri Gagarin back in the early 1961 made oneorbit around the Earth.

Alan Shepard became the hero that this countryneeded.

America's initial and successfully crewedspace missions, known as Project Mercury, were followed by Project Gemini, the provingground that would lead to the Apollo missions and the landing on the moon.

On the Soviet side, cosmonauts and engineerswere doing similar work to extend space flight duration, improve rendezvous techniques, andto develop the capability to leave the spacecraft, in what was dubbed by NASA as an extravehicularactivity, or EVA.

In order for us to conquer the space, we needto learn how to The first successful egress from a spacecraftwhile in orbit was achieved by cosmonaut Alexey Leonov on March 18th, 1965, making him thefirst person to complete and EVA, or spacewalk.

: And what I saw, and I just half of the worldbecause we were 500 kilometers above the earth.

And nobody, even up until now, nobody's flyingthat high.

Alexey's, you know, task was to get out andget back in.

And he had basically, as best I understandit, a fabric tunnel after he got out of an airlock.

And he was literally out there in the vacuumof space.

And once he got through that tunnel, his jobwas to turn around and get back in and had a great deal of difficulty getting back inbecause he had to turn around in that tunnel with a pressurized space suit.

At that time, even for us, was like beinginhibited by a suit of Plaster of Paris.

I mean it's hard to move anything.

And he literally had to deflate his spacesuitat that point in time to be able to reduce his size to get back in.

Later that year, Gemini 4 stood ready to launchfrom Cape Canaveral, Florida, with the primary objective of gathering the results of an extendedfour-day mission on both crew and spacecraft.

Gemini 4's original semiconservative missionwas then expanded to include, amongst other things, a dramatic exit from the Gemini spacecraftin what would be America's first spacewalk.

On June 3rd, 1965, the second crewed missionof the Gemini series carried James McDivitt and Edward White into space.

At 2:46 P.


Eastern Time, using a handheld gas gun, Whitestepped out of his spacecraft, leaving crewmate McDivitt behind to witness the vastness ofspace alone, becoming the first American astronaut to complete a spacewalk.

It's very easy to maneuver the gun.

The only problem I have is that I haven'tgot enough fuel.

The only thing I wish is I had more.

This is the greatest experience It’s justtremendous.

We had Ed White's magnificent 20-minute, quote, walk in space.

I don't think you'll ever get any better film.

It was space euphoria, I think, from everyone, from Ed and Jim McDivitt, to everyone on the ground at Mission Control, everybody.

I mean it was spectacular.

He had a little gun.

He controlled his body.

He could move where he wanted to go.

It set us up.

As time progressed, the Gemini program continuedto refine and even extend EVA procedures as more astronauts followed with tethered spacewalksin Earth's orbit.

Well, you know the difficulties that we hadin the Gemini program doing spacewalks because the state of the art needs to improve.

But, you saw the difficulties there, whereyou jump out and you try to get something done.

Well, you haven't practiced in the free fallzero G condition.

And so, it's Newton's Second Law.

You push on something.

It moves your body instead of getting workdone.

And so, that whole business, you see, we justevolved and we grew since Leonov and Gemini.

Americans like Gene Cernan, Michael Collins, Richard Gordon, and Buzz Aldrin continued the competition with the Soviets.

In the Gemini days, when they were tryingto do the first spacewalks from a capsule, the first EVAs, the first spacewalks werenot very productive.

The crew members got outside.

They didn't have anything to hold onto.

They kind of flailed around.

They couldn't do fairly simple tasks.

And they learned from that that they had tohave a better way to train.

And they started to use water tanks at thattime.

Every progressive EVA had different littlehang ups, frustration, overpowering, getting overheated.

Next came the Apollo program, with one ofits lofty goals to land Americans on the surface of the moon and then return them safely toEarth.

We're going to moon.

I mean, hey, we're going to the moon.

The Gemini series, you could pretty much compareit to what the launch entry suit was like, you know.

It was not custom made.

But, you could–you know, the length in thatstuff could be configured so that you did have a certain mobility in the arms and atthe knees, the difference being the Apollo suits were all custom made for each crew member.

Three, two, one, zero, all engine running.

Lift off, we have a lift off, 32 minutes pastthe hour, liftoff on Apollo 11.

The first steps on the lunar surface wereperformed by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.

It was July 21st, 1969.

And the world irrevocably changed with thesteps of men very far away from the Earth.

That's one small step for a man, one giantleap for mankind.

I do remember the first landing on the moon, Apollo 11.

I remember I guess I was in high school andstaying up and watching that and going out and looking at the moon and just marvelingabout there are people up there.

I think we were all captivated when Neil Armstrongdid the ultimate spacewalk, which was to actually go out of his vehicle and end up walking onthe surface of another body in our solar system.

You have a mass with the backpack and thebody and everything else.

And you move around.

And you kind of think that you can changedirection.

But, that's sort of why at the end of ourtwo hour, two and a half hour EVA, I got in front of the camera and bounced around withdifferent ways of moving.

I was really personally impressed with theApollo EVAs and spacewalks.

Can you imagine the first humans to ever walkon another planetary body to the moon? So, just fantastic, and you kind of see thattwo-foot bunny hop.

So, we had great spacesuits.

We kept the Apollo astronauts alive.

Once we got the Lunar Rover set up, we wereready to go be lunar explorers, if you will.

And part of the lunar rover had plastic fendersthat when it was folded up, we had to unfold them.

And they slid down to cover the wheels.

But, the reason we had fenders on these thingswere because the lunar dust was one of the biggest problems that we encountered on thesurface of the moon.

It was almost the texture of graphite.

But, graphite's a lubricant.

This was just the opposite.

It would get in and on everything.

So, I was walking, doing some work aroundthe lunar rover.

And I put my rock hammer in my pocket withthe handle sticking out.

And I caught it under one of those extensionsof the fender and, boom, blew it off.

The dust would have come right over the topand immersed us in all this dust.

So, we had to figure out a way.

We took four maps, four lunar geology maps, and taped them together and took a couple light clamps and clamped them.

And it did the job.

And what did we tape them with? Duct tape.

: We went from there into the Skylab program.

And we went to the A7LB at that time.

So, Apollo, you know, so on the surface withA7L, a spacesuit.

And we do 1/6 of the gravity.

And we do have the life support system onthe back, which is taking care of all our physiology, the cooling, the oxygen, removingthe carbon dioxide, and all the rest of that.

In the Skylab problem, we were on an umbilical.

The umbilical provided all of the physiology, if you will.

The umbilical between the spacewalker andthe Skylab Space Station provided all the life support.

When we went into the Shuttle program, wewent back to riding a backpack.

But, the big difference between the Shuttleand Apollo was that we did–we integrated the backpack with the suit itself.

So, Apollo was you wear the backpack there, and you bring the hoses around and connect them.

In the Shuttle program, we integrated thehard upper torso and the life support system.

But, importantly too is that we did away withthe zipper.

Now the zipper worked.

And I had taken a zipper through a vacuummany times.

The zipper starts here, and it rolls around, and it rolls up the back.

And the zipper is maybe three feet long.

And it is a zipper.

And a zipper is the only thing between youand eternity.

Spacewalking has actually saved some of ourprograms.

So, we can look at Skylab, which Skylab, thehabitat was getting very, very hot.

And the astronauts had to go outside in theirspacesuits, perform the extravehicular activity, and they literally saved Skylab.

Without EVA, Skylab would have not been habitable.

You know, they had to deploy the solar array.

They had to deploy the thermal canopy overthe damaged area.

So, EVA saved that mission completely.

Another great example from the Gamma Ray ObservatoryMission, Jerry Ross and Jay Apt went out and literally got an antenna deployed.

And it saved, you know, a major observatory, so really important interactions when humans are suited and kind of saving very large missions.

My first job in the astronaut office aftermy initial training program was completed was to start working on EVAs, or spacewalks, and the equipment.

And in fact, we worked with the early crewsto design what their spacewalks would be like.

STS-5 was the first planned spacewalk.

And they had equipment malfunctions whichprohibited them from going outside.

And then STS-6 was the first one where weactually conducted some spacewalks.

So, I worked with those crews, helping themto figure out what tools we had available to them that they could test out and operatein the vacuum of space, out in the payload bay of the orbiter.

And then we progressed from there.

The suit was not a brand-new suit anymore.

I had run it through all the on the floor.

It's the 1G tests.

I had run it through vacuum testing.

I had run it through certification, wherethe number of cycles you put on every–all the joints.

I've been in the water with it.

So, it was a friend.

From that, then we started to develop thingslike the manned maneuvering unit, the little rocket backpack that we demonstrated on severalflights and used in some cases.

In dramatic fashion, doing the first fullyuntethered spacewalk, Bruce McCandless zoomed about in the manned maneuvering unit.

This equipment test would lead to the retrievalof stranded satellites on subsequent missions year later.

And I was really jealous of Bruce McCandlesswhen he had a backpack and went out a ways without a tether and maneuvered around.

Over the following years, extravehicular activitybecame one of the space traveler's most exciting and necessary tools in his or her tool belt.

It was July 17th, 1984, as cosmonaut SvetlanaSavitskaya broke the proverbial glass ceiling and became the first woman to walk in space.

Kathryn Sullivan followed shortly after onOctober 11th, becoming the first female American astronaut to perform a spacewalk.

This is the first chance I had to stick myhead out the hatch on our EVA on day seven.

As time progressed, so did the need for advancedtechnology and utilities.

Complicated missions and space program savingmaneuvers are the essence of NASA's extravehicular activity.

There was one time when I was on the end ofthe mechanical arm.

It was on the Hubble mission.

And I was being moved from one place to another.

And you really have no sensation of movementwhen you're on that arm.

And it's just so smooth.

There's nothing.

There's no drag of the water pulling you back.

And so, you don't really know you're moving.

And I was just–I was working on the tools.

I was putting the sockets on for the nextwhatever task I had to do next.

And the guys stopped.

And they said, “You have to look at this.

You just have to stop and look.

” And so, I stopped and looked.

And we were over the Gulf of Mexico.

We could see the entire North America.

And we could see an aurora up over Canada.

And it was just an amazing view.

We started to develop little power tools.

We developed more wrenches and others kindsof tools that we could use for other types of failures that we identified in the payloadbay door mechanisms to remove debris or to disconnect things should the not functionproperly.

From the Apollo program's deep space missionsaround and to the moon, to the US Skylab, Shuttle, and International Space Station programs, spacewalkers have suited up.

On board the spacecraft, you've got the todaytwo spacewalk crew members who go out, work cooperatively together.

They become brother and sister, brother andbrother, sister and sister.

They learn how to work as a very coherentteam.

They actually understand each other's moves.

They know where they're supposed to be.

You've got nowadays a robotic operator who'sgenerally moving one–at least one of the crew members around on a robotic arm.

You've got the IV crew member, the intravehicularcrew member, who is, for all intents and purposes, the choreographer.

If you can imagine a ballet, there is a choreographeroffstage who's really taught everybody which moves to make and directing them on how toperfect their moves and everything.

And that's what an IV crew member does, hasthe whole mission kind of committed to memory, knows when somebody's out of position, knowswhen somebody's about to get too far away where they can be safely tethered.

Back on Earth in the Mission Control Center, you have the primary person on console that is the EV, or the extravehicular controller.

In the back room, they probably have anywherefrom 25 to 100 people who are looking at data from each of the spacewalking astronauts.

They're looking at data from the spacewalkthat's actually going on.

And then somewhere in the world, like at aplace that built the spacesuit, or somebody that designed the procedure that's being down, whether it's in Denver, Colorado, or Connecticut, they're also looking on.

And they have their own data that they'reevaluating and getting all that back into Mission Control in Houston, telling the flightcontrol team, okay, we see this developing or we see this happening.

You need to let the crew know, so probablythousands of people supporting the development of the types of spacewalks that we're goingto do and then hundreds actually involved in the spacewalk on that particular day.

It was part of our training to make sure that, you know, even though you might be nervous, try not to show them that you're nervous.

Everything had to be laid out perfectly, youknow.

I mean from the start, you know, you had yourcheck list.

It was all laid out properly.

You know which pocket every pen went it, youknow, even down to where the pocket they wanted their sandwich put in.

It has been the astronauts' mantra to train, test, and One of the things that astronauts learn todo, to look at a situation and don't panic about anything.

You'll make it worse.

But, think carefully.

Did you do something wrong? And then fix it.

Well, the astronaut prayer, which is please, God, don't let me screw this up.

That's the first thing.

I think the biggest fear that I had and maybemany astronauts as well is not that I was going to get hurt.

It was that I was going to mess up becauseeverybody's watching.

You have such a limited time out there toget done what needs to be done.

And you really, really don't want to makea mistake.

It was cold.

So, that was a little surprise.

But, we should have anticipated cold.

But, it turns out at that point, we had onlydone hot spacewalks.

Until STS6, they had all been warm.

The STS-125 crew, which was the final Hubbleserving mission, that almost none of us thought they would be able to successfully completefive back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back EVAs and do all that they were supposed todo.

And they not only completed them in spiteof obstacles that almost on–at every turn on almost every single EVA.

But, they did them superbly and left Hubblein incredible shape.

And I think they a tremendous service to planetaryscience, astrophysics, and just the field of spacewalks in terms of showing people thatif you really work hard at it and you plan it and you execute the way you plan, there'snothing we can't do.

When you're doing a spacewalk on orbit, you'rein your own spaceship.

It's your spacesuit.

But, it keeps you from the vacuum outsideand your crewmates inside the space shuttle.

I had one moment on the Hubble Space Telescopemission where Drew Feustel, my spacewalking partner, was on the other side of the telescope.

And I was holding onto a handrail lookingup at the Earth go by behind the Hubble.

And it was a truly remarkable moment.

But, I did realize, you know, how far awaywe were from the Earth's atmosphere, from our homes, from our companions inside thespace shuttle.

And I wouldn't say that I felt a sense ofloneliness, but a sense of awe, you know, that we're doing these kind of things, thatwe're able to fix the Hubble to orbit the Earth.

Through spacewalks, complex problems havebeen solved in extreme ways, such as fixing the Hubble Space Telescope's blurry vision, turning a possible billion dollar piece of space junk into one of the most revered scientificinstruments of human history.

Missions like Hubble tested the mettle ofspacewalkers, an elite breed among an already out of this world group of adventurers.

I'd say that on Hubble, it's a very fine motorskill tuned in very close in a lot of hands work.

So, it's almost like doing surgery when you'rein Hubble in a suit, versus being a longshoreman when you're on Space Station or you're justhanging, moving big blivets around and you're changing stuff out.

And that tradition continued with the wallof EVAs, which built the tremendously successful International Space Station.

It's been 50 years since NASA's first EVA, when Ed White went out on Gemini 4.

We've come a long way since that first one.

Building the International Space Station, it was very, very EVA intensive.

And when we were planning for it, everybodytalked about the wall of EVA.

We're never going to be able to accomplishall this.

And when you look back on what we accomplished, it was pretty darned amazing.

So, on my first flight, we were right in themiddle of the construction of the space station.

And so, of course, every shuttle flight thatwent up was full of spacewalks and just putting pieces together.

Every single EVA was an important and necessarycomponent of the assembly sequence.

So, I think we all feel that, you know, wehad a hand in laying the keystone or however you want to describe it.

To see the ISS now and the spacewalks thatthey do to go out and do repairs, I mean it's just incredible.

Station is more than 14 years old, built byspacewalkers, and continues to be maintained and upgraded through spacewalks in the mostadvanced spacesuits the world has ever seen.

Spacewalks are not–they look like they'reincredible fun.

And they probably are for the crew memberwhen you really get down to it.

But, we much never forget how dangerous theyare.

I felt something that was not–unexpected.

I felt cold water on the back of my head.

And that surprised me.

I contacted the ground, which is the firstthing you would do when something that you're not expecting comes up.

So, I asked Houston for advice.

You know, I said I feel water in my helmet.

But, it feels like a lot of water.

The ground doesn't have a lot of informationon the suit.

They can monitor some things.

They have telemetry about my status, my mentalstatus.

And they know how the suit is performing.

But, a lot of things, we couldn't tell atthat point.

Is the water increasing in my helmet, in theback of my helmet? I couldn't tell.

The ground couldn't tell.

We were trying to come out with what couldbe the possible problem and the solution.

Finally came the decision from the groundto take the safest option, which is we are going to terminate this EVA.

Chris and Luca, just for you guys, based onwhat we heard with Luca saying that water is in his eyes now and it seems to be increasing, we think we're going to terminate EVA case for EV2.

And so, when they told me, okay, Luca, you'regoing to travel back to the airlock, and Chris is going to clean and then follow you, that'swhat we did.

And I started translating back to the airlock.

I had to go upside down and translating withmy head towards the ground.

It always happens.

A lot of things happen at the same time.

The sun went down at that point.

You go to zero, darkness, no [unintelligible], and cold.

And at the same time, the water sloshed aroundin my helmet.

And it covered my eyes and my nose and myears.

So, all at once, I was isolated both beingoutside in my spacesuit, but I was also sensorially [ph] isolated.

I couldn't see.

And I couldn't hear.

And I didn't quite know where I was, how tofind my way back to the airlock.

At that point, it was obvious to me that Ineeded to go back to the airlock by myself and do it as fast as I could because I couldstill breathe through my mouth.

But, I didn't know how much water was in thehelmet.

And I didn't know if there would be more waterin the helmet.

Thankfully, we spent hundreds of hours underwater on the neutral buoyant slab learning the configuration of the Space Station andlearning how to use our spacesuit, learning how to navigate.

And so, using that experience and using myknowledge of the suit and everything I had with me, I was able to find my way in thedark, in the blind back to the airlock.

Once I found the airlock, though, everythingbecame a little better because once I opened the terminal cover, the airlock is illuminated.

And that made a huge difference because nowI knew where I was.

And I knew I could get inside by myself.

And the end of it was that at that point, I had no communication whatsoever.

I couldn't hear myself.

I couldn't hear anything.

I couldn't talk.

My ears were filled with water.

But, I was looking up.

And as soon as they opened the hatch betweenthe space station and the airlock, I saw my crewmates and the look on their faces.

They were so worried and so relieved at thesame time.

And they pulled me out.

And as soon as they could, they deflated thesuit and unlocked the helmet.

And the look on their faces and seeing theirfaces was a very happy moment for me.

I felt so relieved and so happy that theywere all around me.

Today, the International Space Station isbeing used as a proving ground to conduct the research and test the technologies thatwill take humans beyond low Earth orbit and deeper into the solar system than ever before, to the area around the moon, to an asteroid, and on to Mars.

We will pioneer space, not just to visit, but to stay.

We're going to migrate out over the next fiveto 10 years into repositioning humanity in lunar orbit.

So, we will spend most of our time orbitingthe moon and doing more technology development, but learning basically how we operate in alow gravity or no gravity environment because that's the way it will be when we go to Mars.

Mars's gravity is less than Earth's.

Operating there will be significantly differentthan operating here in low Earth orbit.

When we do the asteroid redirect mission andwe reposition an asteroid into a stable retrograde orbit around the moon, then the dominant gravityfor that group of explorers, if you will, is going to be the asteroid itself.

And that's going to be a very, very, verylow gravity field if any at all.

So, we've got a lot of development of tactics, techniques, and procedures.

You never know when you build a piece of hardware, the guys back in the '70s and gals that built and designed and tested the original EMUs, which we're still flying today, by the way.

The life support systems are still the originallife support systems that we had 37 years ago.

You never know where that hardware's goingto end up.

To see the suit, you know, to see it go onover the decades and into we never planned on hundreds of spacewalks.

And the key thing there is in structural integrityis that you identify weakness before failure.

From here, NASA engineers, technicians, andastronauts will figure out new ways to overcome the next set of challenges.

We decided to orbit the Earth a lot insteadof going deeper into space.

And now I think it's time for us to take thatstep beyond orbiting the Earth and moving on.

We don't have the same momentum we had whenwe had an enemy that we were afraid of.

So, we are not in competition as much as Ithink we need to be in cooperation with other nations in order to move all of us forwardand out into space.

Mars is really extreme, which is the greatpart about it.

It's challenging.

So, when we get to Mars, you're going to needto be provided your life support and pressure with the spacesuit.

But, it'll have to be really something newin terms of to be very lightweight, be very mobile.

We don't really have a locomotion suit.

We have spacesuits for the vacuum of microgravity.

So, you're weightless, which is great.

But, that's a very different environment.

Now when we get to Mars, we have gravity, [unintelligible] gravity.

So, we're bipedal again.

So, we're going to be walking, bending, orgoing there to search for life.

We're looking for fossils and digging thingsup.

So, you really are an explorer.

So, it is akin to Lewis and Clark Expedition.

And you're exploring and moving out into theWest.

It's really the next frontier.

For anyone who goes on another EVA strollback on the moon or on Mars, and we'll do both one day.

I know that'll happen.

Take duct tape.

We are currently further along than ever beforein human history on our journey to Mars.

American engineers and scientists around thecountry are working hard to develop the technologies, including new spacesuits that astronauts willuse to one day live and work on the Red Planet.

Next stop, Mars.