What do you need to spacewalk?

In March 1965, Russian cosmonaut Alexei A. Leonov stepped through an inflatable air lock attached to Voskhod 2 to become the first person to walk in space. The first American astronaut to walk in space was Edward White.

Going outside a spacecraft is called "spacewalking" or extra-vehicular activity (EVA).

Astronaut Jeff Williams works outside the International Space Station during a spacewalk.
Photo Credit: National Aeronautics & Space Administration

What do you need to do a spacewalk?

  • A spacesuit to protect you from flying particles and extreme temperatures as well as provide you with oxygen for breathing in airless space.

  • A compressed nitrogen thruster backpack to help you move around and fly back to your spacecraft.

    If you don't have it then you may be able to push off against the spacecraft but subsequently you have nothing to guide your movements. You will be floating and probably lost in space.

  • A long hose connecting you to the spacecraft that keeps you from floating off into space. You can slowly pull yourself along the hose to get back to the spacecraft. It takes the place of a backpack.

"George Files" by Parenting the Next Generation