10 Amazing Facts about the Ultimate High-Altitude Hike, Spacewalks.

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Astronaut on Spacewalk.
Image Credit: NASA
Spacewalks, which technically known as Extra-vehicular Activity [EVA] are the finest examples of human innovation and courage. During a spacewalk, astronauts witness a breathtaking view of Earth below them as they soar over the mountains, deserts, city lights, rivers and oceans experiencing a sunrise and a sunset in every 90 minutes. 

Spacewalks are mainly performed to carry out space station maintenance and science experiments outside the station, but sometimes it has also done to repair spacecraft and telescopes that are in space. So, here are the ten amazing facts about the ultimate high-altitude hike, spacewalks:-

1.Long training on Earth- 
Before launching to space, astronauts train for months and practice their spacewalks several times in an underwater simulated environment. Another way astronauts practice spacewalks is by using virtual reality. It's simulation looks and feels just like a spacewalk.

Astronauts practising EVA underwater
SM4 EVA Astronauts John Grunsfeld and Andrew Feustel practice installing Hubble’s new panchromatic imaging instrument, the Wide Field Camera 3, during final underwater training at the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Image Credit: NASA.
2.Spacesuits, you can't dare to wear- 
During spacewalks, astronauts wear a spacewalking suit called Extravehicular Mobility Unit or EMU which acts as a life support system and protects them from the hazardous environment of space. While in space it weighs nothing, but on Earth these suits weighs around 280 pounds [127 kg], without the astronaut in it.

3.Preparation before a spacewalk takes hours- 

It takes almost 45 minutes to wear an EMU and even after putting it on, to get adapted to the lower pressure of the suit, an astronaut has to spend few more hours breathing pure oxygen before going outside of the space station. Breathing only oxygen also helps to get rid of all the nitrogen in an astronaut's body, which could cause body pain during the spacewalk.

4.How long they walk in space?
Usually, spacewalks last between 6 to 7 hours but can be extended to 8 hours, if necessary. The work timeline is designed to fulfil as many tasks as possible, as the astronauts have limited life support systems in the spacesuit.

Astronauts during an EVA
Astronauts Steven L. Smith and John M. Grunsfeld are photographed during an EVA during the December 1999 Hubble servicing mission of STS-103. Image Credit: NASA.
5.Eating and Drinking- 
Before a spacewalk astronauts eat light, usually something like a protein bar, some fruits and water. Their spacesuits also have a drink bag inside, with a bite valve that allows ready access to water.

6.Why spacesuits only come in white?

The reason that spacesuits are white because white colour reflects heat in space as the same it does here on Earth. During spacewalks astronauts face a wide variety of temperatures. In direct sunlight, the temperature can go up to 275°F [135°C] and in Earth orbit, conditions can be as cold as -250°F [-121°C].

Astronauts floating in space
Astronauts F. Story Musgrave, left, and Donald H. Peterson float in the cargo bay of the Earth-orbiting space shuttle Challenger during their April 7, 1983 extravehicular activity on the STS-6 mission. Their "floating" is restricted via tethers to safety slide wires. Image Credit: NASA.

7.Safety during the walking-
Astronauts use safety tethers to stay close to their spacecraft. One end of the tether is hooked to the astronaut, while the other end is attached to the spacecraft. The safety tethers protect astronauts from floating away into space.

8.And the best part, they also have Jetpacks-

To move around freely in space without any safety tethers astronauts use a jetpack-like device called the Manned Maneuvering Unit [MMU]. It uses small jet thrusters to move and has a control on the armrest to direct.

Astronaut using Manned Maneuvering Unit
Astronaut Dale A. Gardner, getting his turn in the Manned Maneuvering Unit, prepares to dock with the spinning WESTAR VI satellite during the STS-51A mission. Image Credit: NASA.
9.The first and the longest spacewalks-
The first person to go on an EVA was cosmonaut Alexei Leonov from Russia. It took place on March 18, 1965, and was 10 to 12 minutes long. The longest EVA was 8 hours and 56 minutes, performed by Susan J. Helms and James S. Voss on March 11, 2001.

10.The first spacewalk for an in-flight repair-

The first EVA where an astronaut performed an in-flight repair of a space shuttle was by American astronaut Steve Robinson on Aug. 3, 2005, during STS-114. Robinson removed two protruding gap fillers from space shuttle Discovery's heat-shield while the shuttle was docked to the International Space Station.

article reference:- nasa.gov


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