A Glimpse at Astronauts’ Incredible Spacewalk

Over 200 miles away from earth, European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst and NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman left the comforts of their International Space Station to take a stroll through space. This Tuesday, Oct. 7th, the duo spent a total of 6 hours and 13 minutes outside of their floating home to clean and maintain its facilities.

The spacewalk (or U.S. EVA – short for extravehicular activities) is the first of three for the Expedition 41 crew and officially began at 8:30 a.m. EDT. Both astronauts were tethered to the space station in order to move a failed pump module to a storage area. Guided by Flight Engineer Barry Wilmore of NASA, who operated the Canadian robotic arm that maneuvered Gerst, they also replaced camera light and installed a relay that feeds backup power to the rail system that aids in the movement of the station’s robotic arm.

To prepare for the occasion, both Wiseman and Gerst trained in water to mimic the weightlessness of space. These spacewalks will ultimately prep the astronauts for the arrival of commercial crewed vehicles, which anticipates the major reconfiguration of the station’s modules.

For many astronauts, this is a momentous, once-in-a-life opportunity. In fact, according to Canadian astronaut, Chris Hadfield, the experience of being alone in the universe is unlike any other – even the birth of his three children. Wiseman, on the other hand, can only describe his adventure by offering a list of emotions. Unsure of what to expect, he couldn’t wait to leave the station and was, “absolutely excited, nervous, anxious…”

Luckily, he doesn’t have to wait too long to attempt the incredible feat again. The second spacewalk is scheduled to take place next week on Oct. 15. This time, Wiseman will be accompanied by Wilmore to perform further maintenance work on the station.

In the meantime, here a few shots of the incredible space walk courtesy of social media:

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* The station currently hosts an international crew of six that make up the Expedition 41 crew. Accompanying Wiseman, Gerst, and Wilmore are Russian cosmonauts Maxim Suraev, Alexander Samokutyaev and Elena Serova.