For astronauts, going outside the spacecraft is just part of the job. It is necessary to install or replace equipment, as well as to perform repair work. But the first such operation almost ended for the Soviet cosmonaut tragically.
In the 20th century, space exploration turned into a serious race between America and the USSR. Both countries sometimes risked a lot only to become leaders. The first satellite, a man in orbit, the exit to a vacuum, docking, landing on the moon ...
In a particular case, the primacy managed to win the Soviet cosmonaut Alexey Leonov. The Americans announced that they were planning the first space walk in 1965 (they did it in July), so the USSR decided to hurry.
Computer model showing Aleksey Leonov's spacewalk
In March 1965 the spacecraft Voskhod-2 flew out of the Baikonur cosmodrome. There were only two people on board: Leonov (pilot) and Pavel Belyaev (commander). Both countries needed to implement this practice, because no one knew if a person could survive in a vacuum at all. What about the psyche? For example, Tsiolkovsky believed that the astronaut would lose consciousness or lose his mind right away.
It is important to understand that the American and Soviet spacecraft were different. The former had the opportunity to depressurize the compartment in order to simply open the hatch and find themselves in space. But scientists of the USSR were concerned about the high risk for the ship (no one knew how the vacuum would affect the internal instruments and sensors). Therefore, we decided to use a special inflatable additional gateway. It was attached to the ship and simply unfolded in space.
Meeting with a vacuum
Oxygen cylinders mounted on a spacecraft
For a long time, researchers believed that only very healthy people could become astronauts. Various centrifuge tests made it possible to predict a possible state in space (nausea, pressure, etc.). But at the same time, the influence of weightlessness was ignored (there is even a cosmic disease - the adaptation period on the ISS).
After one and a half hours after launch, Leonov set about completing the mission. His spacesuit was attached to the ship by a cable, and there was a special camera near the thigh. You just had to pull the cable to take pictures. Radio broadcasts to the whole world about the first space walk. That's just not all went smoothly.
Problems in vacuum
Alexey Leonov is separated from the spacecraft. TASS photo archive
Leonov approached several times and flew away from the spacecraft. But the snag is that his space suit was greatly inflated. He could not even work properly with gloves to pull the camera's cable release.
Its volume has increased to such an extent that it was impossible to squeeze into the dimensions of the gateway. Then Leonov decided to reduce the pressure inside the suit (this is dangerous, as there was a risk of boiling nitrogen in the blood). He managed to squeeze inside, but he violated two rules of instruction: he entered headfirst, although he needed legs (he had to turn over inside very closely), and removed the spacesuit ahead of time (his eyes were sweated).
On the platform of the Cosmonauts Mausoleum (from left to right): Valentina Tereshkova, Yuri Gagarin, Alexey Leonov, Pavel Belyaev. TASS photo archive
But this trouble is not over. The hatch of the compartment closed leaking, leaving a small gap. Because of this, the ship's system, trying to balance the loss of oxygen, began to add more volume. In the end, the slightest spark would suffice for the ship to explode. Gradually, pressure and oxygen levels were balanced.
The heroes had to return home. But they got off the course a bit and landed in the taiga. The astronauts had to use the ship's casing as an additional means of warming. They were able to pick up only on the third day.
Fortunately, both astronauts survived. The championship is always accompanied by a serious risk, especially when it comes to space. But Alexey Leonov proved that a person can go into outer space and remain unscathed.