Sunday, February 7, 2010

Flying Without a Net - The First Untethered Spacewalk

The first untethered spacewalk was by American Bruce McCandless II was on February 7, 1984, 26 years ago, during Challenger mission STS-41-B, utilizing the Manned Maneuvering Unit. He was joined by Robert L. Stewart during the 5 hour 55 minute spacewalk.

Spacewalks are dangerous for many reasons, mainly the possibility of a collision with space debris. The Velocity while orbiting 300 km above the Earth is approximately ten times the speed of a bullet. Nearly every space mission creates more orbiting debris, so this problem will continue to worsen. Other risks include an astronaut becoming separated from his or her craft or suffering a spacesuit puncture which would depressurize the suit, causing anoxia and rapid death.

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