Suit Up: 50 Years of Spacewalks

2015, Technology  -  33 min Leave a Comment
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2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the first American to walk in space. A new documentary commissioned by NASA titled Suit Up celebrates this historic event by featuring the accomplishments of those rare few who have experienced this thrilling form of space exploration.

It all began in 1965 when cosmonaut Alexey Leonov and American astronaut Edward White became the first people in history to perform extravehicular activity (EVA), otherwise known as a spacewalk. Space exploration grew from a foundation of fierce competition. After the Soviets launched the satellite Sputnik into space in 1957, the United States founded NASA, and the race was on to be the first country to develop and implement manned missions outside the confines of our planet.

The earliest suit technologies, such as those worn by White in that first Gemini 4 mission, were rustic and troublesome. While they allowed for basic survival outside of the spacecraft, they were too limited and constrictive to perform simple productive functions amidst the harsh environment of space. NASA applied the lessons of Gemini 4 to their future missions, including the hugely ambitious Apollo 11 launch where Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong became the first humans in history to walk on the surface of the moon. The suits were now customized for each astronaut, and reconfigured to allow for greater freedom of movement and internal temperature control.

The design and functionality of the space suit only improved with subsequent missions. Astronauts would soon be able to repair complex equipment malfunctions with tremendous precision and dexterity from outside their spacecraft.

Space suit technology continues to evolve as we set our eyes on exploring the even more distant reaches of our solar system, including the planet Mars. The film features a wealth of awe-inspiring footage collected from decades of exploratory space missions, narration by actor and space enthusiast Jon Cryer, and interviews with many key figures including assorted NASA engineers and development personnel, and astronauts Buzz Aldrin, Sunita Williams, Story Musgrave, Gene Cernan, and Kathryn Sullivan. Inspiring and informative, Suit Up celebrates the possibilities of our future in space travel by paying honor to our past.