Today in history: First ever American spacewalk took place June 3rd, 1965

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First Ever American Spacewalk Took Place 50 Years Ago


Half a century ago, one man forced heads to turn away from the battle brewing in Vietnam, and instead look 120 miles above Earth.

Major Edward H. White II stepped out of the doors of the Gemini IV on June 3rd, 1965, to become the first American astronaut to walk in space, only three months after the very first spacewalk by the Soviets.



White's tether allowed him to stretch 25 feet outside of his craft. He floated in space and moved around using a jet-propulsion gun for 20 minutes before re-entering.

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Ed White first American spacewalk June 3, 1965
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Today in history: First ever American spacewalk took place June 3rd, 1965

NASA Astronaut Ed White made history on June 3, 1965, when he floated out of the hatch of his Gemini 4 capsule into the void of space. The first American "spacewalk" - or Extravehicular Activity (EVA) - lasted 23 minutes, not nearly long enough for White. He later said the spacewalk was the most comfortable part of the mission, and said the order to end it was the "saddest moment" of his life.

White was attached to the capsule by a 25 foot umbilical cord. He initially used a gas powered gun held in his hand to maneuver. After the first three minutes the fuel ran out and White moved around by twisting his body and pulling on the cord.

This photograph of White's spacewalk was taken by Gemini 4 Commander James McDivitt, still inside the spacecraft.

(Photo via NASA)

Astronaut Ed White, pilot on the Gemini-Titan 4 spacecraft, is shown during his egress from the spacecraft.

(Photo via NASA)

On June 3, 1965, Edward H. White II became the first American to step outside his spacecraft and let go, effectively setting himself adrift in the zero gravity of space. For 23 minutes White floated and maneuvered himself around the Gemini spacecraft while logging 6,500 miles during his orbital stroll. White was attached to the spacecraft by a 25 foot umbilical line and a 23 foot tether line, both wrapped in gold tape to form one cord. In his right hand, White carries a Hand Held Self Maneuvering Unit, which is used to move about the weightless environment of space. The visor of his helmet is gold plated to protect him from the unfiltered rays of the sun.

(Photo via NASA)

Astronaut Edward H. White, pilot for the Gemini IV spaceflight, floats in space during the first spacewalk by an American. The extravehicular activity, or spacewalk, was performed during the third Earth orbit of the Gemini IV mission. White is attached to the spacecraft by a 25-foot umbilical line and a 23-foot tether line, both wrapped in gold tape to form one cord. In his right hand White carries a Hand-Held Self-Maneuvering Unit. The visor of his helmet is gold-plated to protect him from the unfiltered rays of the sun.

(Photo via NASA)

Astronaut Ed White performed the first American spacewalk during the Gemini 4 mission on June 3, 1965.

(Photo via NASA)

This close-up is of Ed White during his Gemini 4 spacewalk.

(Photo via NASA)

In a photograph taken by Commander James McDivitt taken early in the EVA over a cloud-covered Pacific Ocean, the maneuvering gun is visible in White's right hand. The visor of his helmet is gold-plated to protect him from the unfiltered rays of the sun.

(Photo via NASA)

Ed White floats outside the Gemini capsule.

(Photo via NASA)

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