When Alexei Leonov made the world’s first spacewalk in 1965 in Voskhod 2, it was hailed as yet another great success for the USSR in the space race against America. It was only after the fall of the Soviet Union that the west found out that while it may well have been made to look like a success by the Soviet Press.
image/text credit: Curious Droid
It was, in fact, it was teetering on the edge of disaster from the moment Leonov stepped out of the airlock till the crew were rescued from the vast frozen forests of northern Russia.As he ventured from the Voskhod 2 space capsule, Leonov’s suit expanded as the pressure around him changed. Having spent 10 minutes in space, his suit was blowing up like a balloon.
If he didn’t act, the suit would start coming apart, and in any case it was too wide to fit through the airlock. He vented precious air from the suit into space. As the effects of decompression sickness and the heat from exertion began to take their toll, he pulled himself back onboard the craft.
Humanity has overcome many hurdles to enter space, land on the moon and create a space station. The new technologies and materials created for the space programs have filtered into our lives in many other guises – from flame retardants and heat resistant materials, to ultrasound medical devices, water and air filtration, memory foam mattresses, freeze-dried food and prosthetic limbs.