On this day in 1965, astronaut Edward H. White II became the first American to perform Extra Vehicular Activity (EVA), also known as a spacewalk.
As a part of the Gemini 4 mission, astronauts Edward H. White II and James McDivitt were sent on a four day spaceflight, the first multi-day spaceflight by the United States. The mission’s primary objective was to evaluate the effects of prolonged spaceflight and to demonstrate that humans could remain in space for extended periods of time. It’s secondary objective was to conduct the first Extra Vehicular Activity by an American astronaut and to evaluate the ability of the Hand-Held Maneuvering Unit (HHMU), also known as the zip gun, to control the astronaut’s movement.
Edward White, who was lucky enough to perform the first spacewalk, was so enthralled by the experience that he did not want to return to the spacecraft when commanded to.
The transcript from the Gemini 4 mission plays more like a mother calling to her son playing outside to come in for dinner.
McDIVITT: They want you to get back in now.
WHITE (laughing): I’m not coming in… This is fun.
McDIVITT: Come on.
WHITE: Hate to come back to you but I’m coming
McDIVITT: Gosh, you still got three and a half more days to go, buddy
GEMINI CONTROL: You’re got about four minutes to Bermuda.
WHITE: I’m trying to…
McDIVITT: O.K. O.K. Don’t wear yourself out now. Just come in… How you doing there?
WHITE: … whenever a piece of dirt or something goes by, it always heads right for that door and goes on out.
McDIVITT: O.K., come in then.
WHITE: …aren’t you going to hold my hand?
McDIVITT: No, come on in the… Ed, come on in here!
WHITE: All right. I’ll open the door and come through there…
McDIVITT: Come on. Let’s get back in here before it gets dark.
WHITE: It’s the saddest moment of my life.
McDIVITT: Well, you’re going to find it sadder when we have to come down with this thing.
Read more about America’s first spacewalk here: http://motherboard.vice.com/en_ca/blog/americas-first-extra-vehicular-activity
Read the full transcript of the Gemini 4 mission here: http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/history/mission_trans/GT04_TEC.PDF
Does everyone become a little kid on a spacewalk? I hope so.