Phases of The Spacewalk:
One of the most difficult parts of an astronaut’s life in space is the spacewalk-the act in which the astronaut gets out of his or her spacecraft while in space, also called EVA(Extravehicular Activity) as it’s performed outside the spacecraft or space vehicle. The astronauts usually go on a spacewalk outside the International Space Station.
The first-ever person to go on a spacewalk was Cosmonaut(Russian Astronaut) Alexei Leonov on 18th march 1965, which lasted for 10 minutes. Another Cosmonaut Anatoly Solovyev holds the record for the most number of spacewalks,16, which are when summed up make up 82 hours, almost three and a half days. Can you just imagine that astronauts spent 3 and half days outside in empty space! This must require special training which the astronauts undergo for a long time.
The Training of Spacewalk
The astronauts train for their spacewalks underwater in a large swimming pool near Johnson Space Centre, Houston, Texas, US. The place is also called NBL(Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory) where astronauts undergo training in a pool that contains 6.2 gallons of water(Almost 23.4 million liters) as space resembles a lot like a pool. They train for seven hours inside that pool for every hour of a spacewalk.
Virtual Reality(VR) also helps astronauts feel the space here on earth. It’s a modern technology by use of which one can get the feel of the thing he or she is watching in it or playing in it.
What is the purpose of Spacewalk
There are many purposes for a spacewalk as astronauts have to make repairs and upgrades or installations of the equipment on the outside part of their spaceship. For that, they have to go outside with their spacesuits. They also go out to execute various science experiments like, to check how some materials and objects behave in empty space or their reaction with the cosmic radiation which is really high in space.
Usually, a spacewalk lasts 5 to 8 hours depending upon their jobs. First of all, they put on spacesuits to keep themselves safe from radiation. The spacesuits have pure oxygen inside it. The astronauts have to inhale pure oxygen for few hours to get the nitrogen out of their body as the nitrogen being inside them can cause them to get gas bubbles in their body when they walk in space which can consequently make them feel pain in shoulders, elbows, wrists, and knees, also called “getting the bends”, as it affects the body where it bends.
They get out of their vehicle through a special door called an airlock. They have to be inside with the airlock being airtight so that air can’t get through. After leaving the spaceship they have to close or lock one of the doors of the airlock and when coming back they can open the second door keeping the fact in the mind that no air would get out of the spacecraft.
Another concern is that they mustn’t float in the space away from their spaceship which may be dangerous as they won’t be able to return again. So in order to avoid this thing, astronauts use some ropes called tethers with one end hooked to the spacewalker and the other one to the vehicle. They also use SAFER(Simplified Aid for EVA Rescue) which is put on like a backpack with small jet thrusters which would help the astronauts move around in space and help him or her fly back to the spaceship in case he floats away in space.
So have you ever fancied about doing a spacewalk sometime in the future, roaming in the dark empty space all alone without the care of anything and just enjoy the beauty of the cosmos? Please feel free to share it in the comments below.
Author: Som Abhisek.
Images from NASA