Former Astronaut about his first Spacewalk


What was your first space walk like? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Leroy Chiao, former NASA astronaut and ISS commander:

„It was a totally new experience, because there is no training that can accurately simulate the feeling and impression. The zero-G airplane flights get you 20 or so seconds at a time of weightlessness, but you don’t get the visual impression of climbing out of the airlock into open space.

Surreal is the word I use. It seemed like being in a dream, especially the first time. My first impression of the Earth was that it was even more brightly colored than through the windows. Also, I got more of a 3D impression, since the helmet allowed me to use my peripheral vision, unlike looking through the windows.

Nonetheless, EVA is hard physical work, as your suit is pressurized to keep you alive. Moving your arms and fingers takes strength. Also, it is loud inside of the spacesuit, because of the fan/pump motor(s). It is not at all like in the movies.

Of course, astronauts are mission-success driven, so the first order of EVA is to get your job done. Sprinkled in between tasks are the moments when you think “Wow, I’m in a spacesuit out in open space!”
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