The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C is commemorating 50 years of spacewalks by opening up a special spacewalk exhibit named “Outside the Spacecraft: 50 Years of Extra-Vehicular Activity.” The exhibition, which opened yesterday, will run for the next six months.
It opens today and will run for six months. The tribute to spacewalking will feature artifacts, personal accounts and photographs from NASA’s history of extravehicular activity (EVA).
Russian cosmonaut Alexei Leonox made the first spacewalk in March 1965. He was outside his ship for 12 minutes. Edward White, a NASA astronaut, was next. He completed a 20-minute walk three months after that.
A lot of White’s equipment is included in the spacewalk exhibit including his camera and his spacesuit. The museum also has on display the Gemini 4 spacecraft from which he exited.
Leonox’s equipment is sparser because his spacecraft and spacesuit are already on display in Russia. The spacewalk exhibit does, however, have his airlock and training suit.
The curator of the newly-opened exhibition, Jennifer Levasseur, told the press that this 50th anniversary provides the “perfect opportunity” to display objects from the history of EVA. Extravehicular activity is credited for aiding man in progressing from going into space to engaging in such activities as repairing the Hubble Space Telescope, walking on the moon and constructing the ISS (International Space Station).
Levasseur added that that is exactly why the spacewalk exhibit is important. It educates the populace on the import of EVA which is and still remains crucial to completing space missions.
The spacewalk exhibit also includes objects from the Apollo 11 spacecraft which made the first successful moon landing. Included here are former astronaut Neil Armstrong’s headset, a NASA waist tether and the lunar module film camera which documented the landing.
Finally the spacewalk exhibit also features a display of photographs and artwork of spacewalks through the past half a century. It demonstrates the similarities and the differences in the spacewalks from the past to the more recent space walks on the ISS. Almost 200 astronauts have taken 375 spacewalks over the past 50 years.