When astronauts move outside of the International Space Station to go on spacewalks, the main thing they have to do is focus.
This may sound easy, but imagine trying to focus on a memorized series of tasks while moving out of an airlock and wearing a 300-pound spacesuit– with the glow of the sun and the Earth and the dark void of the universe all around you. A chord connects you to the space station, and the zero-gravity keeps you from falling.
“There’s a lot of things that you actually need to do, one of which is just to stay in focus, even though it’s amazing out there,” said Mike Fincke, a NASA astronaut. “It’s truly breathtaking. The only thing between the universe and you, watching the whole cosmos of creation, is the glass faceplate on your helmet, and it’s just beautiful.”
Depending on the inclination of the space station, which revolves around the Earth 16 times each day while moving at 17,500 miles per hour, our planet can appear below or above the astronauts.
Mike is a veteran of spaceflight. He’s spent 392 days in space, and he’s gone on nine spacewalks in American and Russian spacesuits. Mike is training in Texas for his fifth flight and will launch to the space station at the end of this year on the first crewed experimental flight of Boeing’s Starliner.
More than 600 people have been to space, and approximately half of them have been on a spacewalk, Mike said. Spacewalks are often referred to as extravehicular activities or EVAs.
NASA astronaut Ed White performed the first-ever spacewalk by an American astronaut on June 2, 1965. He moved out of the Gemini 4 capsule at 3:45 p.m. ET and remained outside for 23 minutes.