13 December 1972: At approximately 22:26 UTC, NASA Astronauts Eugene A. Cernan and Harrison H. Schmitt began the last of three moon walks, or EVAs, on the surface of the Moon at the Taurus-Littrow Valley.
“Bob, [Robert A.P. Parker, Astronaut, Houston Mission Control Cap Com]this is Gene, and I’m on the surface; and, as I take man’s last step from the surface, back home for some time to come — but we believe not too long into the future — I’d like to just [say] what I believe history will record. That America’s challenge of today has forged man’s destiny of tomorrow. And, as we leave the Moon at Taurus-Littrow, we leave as we came and, God willing, as we shall return: with peace and hope for all mankind. Godspeed the crew of Apollo 17.”
— Astronaut Eugene Andrew Cernan, Captain, USN, at the Taurus Littrow Valley, The Moon, at Mission Time 170:40:00
This was the final EVA of the Apollo Program, lasting approximately 7 hours, 15 minutes. Then Harrison H. Schmitt and Gene Cernan climbed up into the Lunar Module Challenger to prepare to lift off the following day.
Gene Cernan was the last man to stand on the surface of the Moon.
25 July 1984: Cosmonaut Svetlana Evgenievna Savitskaya, on her second mission to the Salyut 7 space station, became the first woman to perform a space walk, when she spent 3 hours, 35 minutes outside the space station.
Colonel Savitskaya was the second woman to fly in space, following Cosmonaut Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova. Svetlana Evgenievna’s first space flight was also to Salyut 7, in 1982. She was assigned as commander of an all-woman crew to the station, but that flight was cancelled. She has spent 19 days, 7 hours, 6 minutes in space.
Svetlana Evgenievna Savitskaya was born 8 August 1948 in Moscow, Russia. She is the daughter of Air Marshal Yevgeny Yakovlevich Savitsky, twice a Hero of the Soviet Union, and Lidia Pavlovna.
Colonel Savitskaya is a retired flight engineer and test pilot. Like her father, she was twice awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union. She was also awarded the Order of Lenin twice, the Order of the Badge of Honor, and the Order for Services to the Fatherland.
Svetlana Evgenievna was a member of the Soviet Union’s national aerobatic team. In 1970, she won the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Aerobatic Championship, held at RAF Hullvington, Wiltshire, England, while flying a Yakovlev Yak-18.
In 1971, she graduated from the Central Flight Technical School of the USSR, and from the Ministry of Aviation Industry test pilot school, in 1976. She served as a flight instructor until 1978 when she was assigned as a test pilot at the Yakovlev Design Bureau. She set 18 FAI world records in airplanes and another 4 in free-fall parachuting from high altitude. (Two records, set with a Yakovlev Yak-40 in April 1981, remain current.)
In 1980, Svetlana Evgenievna was assigned to cosmonaut training.
She earned her doctorate in technical sciences in 1986. Married to a pilot, Victor Khatovsky, with a son, Konstantine. She retired in 1993 with the rank of major. (Presently she holds the rank of colonel.)
Academician Savitskaya is a member of the International Academy of Astronautics. She is Honorary President of the Federation of Aviation Sports of Russia.
Svetlana Evgenievna currently serves in the parliamentary assembly of the Union of Russia and Belarus. She holds the position of Deputy Chairman of the committee for security, defense and law enforcement.
3 June 1966: NASA Astronauts Thomas P. Stafford and Eugene A. Cernan launched from Launch Complex 19, Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 13:39:33 UTC, aboard Gemini IX-A. The Gemini was a two-man space capsule built by McDonnell Aircraft Corporation of St. Louis. The launch vehicle was a Titan II GLV rocket. Stafford and Cernan were the original Gemini IX back up crew, but the primary crew, Charles Bassett and Elliott See, were killed in an aircraft accident three months earlier.
The three-day mission was to rendezvous and dock with an Agena Target Docking Adapter in low Earth orbit, and for Gene Cernan to perform several space walks and to test a back pack maneuvering unit.
Gemini IX-A successfully rendezvoused with the ATDA at 17:45 UTC, 3 June. However, the protective shroud had not separated from the Agena and docking with it was not possible.
18 March 1965, 07:00:00 UTC (10:00:00 Moscow Time): Cosmonauts Павел Иванович Беляев (Pavel Ivanovich Belyaev) and Алексей Архипович Леонов (Alexey Arkhipovich Leonov) were launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome aboard a Voskhod-3KD spacecraft, Восход-2 (Voskhod-2). The launch vehicle was a Voskhod 11A57 two-stage liquid-fueled rocket. Voskhod-2 entered a 167 × 475 kilometers (90 × 256 nautical miles) elliptical orbit with a period of 90 minutes, 54 seconds.
As the Voskhod entered its second orbit, co-pilot Major Leonov exited the vehicle. An expandable air lock was used. This was the first time that a human had left a vehicle in space. he floated freely, though remained connected by an umbilical. This would be known as an Extravehicular Activity (an “E.V.A.,” or “space walk”). Leonov remained outside for 12 minutes, 9 seconds, establishing the first FAI World Record for Extravehicular Duration in Space. ¹
Both cosmonauts wore full-pressure suits (a “space suit”) for protection in the vacuum of space. With his suit fully inflated by pressurized air, Leonov was both larger and more rigid than was expected. He had great difficulty re-entering the Voskhod, requiring that he vent the suit pressure.
Leonov wrote about it for Air & Space:
With some reluctance I acknowledged that it was time to reenter the spacecraft. Our orbit would soon take us away from the sun and into darkness. It was then I realized how deformed my stiff spacesuit had become, owing to the lack of atmospheric pressure. My feet had pulled away from my boots and my fingers from the gloves attached to my sleeves, making it impossible to reenter the airlock feet first.
I had to find another way of getting back inside quickly, and the only way I could see to do this was pulling myself into the airlock gradually, head first. Even to do this, I would carefully have to bleed off some of the high-pressure oxygen in my suit, via a valve in its lining. I knew I might be risking oxygen starvation, but I had no choice. If I did not reenter the craft, within the next 40 minutes my life support would be spent anyway.
The only solution was to reduce the pressure in my suit by opening the pressure valve and letting out a little oxygen at a time as I tried to inch inside the airlock. At first I thought of reporting what I planned to do to mission control. But I decided against it. I did not want to create nervousness on the ground. And anyway, I was the only one who could bring the situation under control.
But I could feel my temperature rising dangerously high, with a rush of heat from my feet traveling up my legs and arms, due to the immense physical exertion all the maneuvering involved. It was taking longer than it was supposed to. Even when I at last managed to pull myself entirely into the airlock, I had to perform another almost impossible maneuver. I had to curl my body around in order to close the airlock, so pasha could activate the mechanism to equalize pressure between it and the spacecraft.
Once Pasha was sure the hatch was closed and the pressure had equalized, he triggered the inner hatch open and I scrambled back into the spacecraft, drenched with sweat, my heart racing.
—“The Nightmare of Voskhod,” by Alexey Leonov, Air & Space Smithsonian, January 2005
On 19 March, Voshkod-2’s apogee set a Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Record for Altitude in Elliptical Orbit of 497,7 kilometers (268.7 nautical miles/309.3 statute miles). ²
The space craft began to lose pressure, with it’s oxygen tanks dropping by two-thirds during Orbit 13. It was thought that the mission might have to be cut short.
It was planned for Voskhod-2 to reenter on the 16th orbit, however the automatic landing system failed to fire the spacecraft’s retrorockets. Using the Voskhod’s primary engine, a manual reentry was initiated during the 18th orbit. The crew also had to oreint the spacecraft manually, and this caused them a delay of 46 seconds before initiating reentry. They overshot there expected landing point by approximately 2,000 kilometers (1,250 miles).
Voshkod-2 landed in remote area of Perm Krai at 09:02:17 UTC on 19 March. The duration of the flight was 1 day, 2 hours, 2 minutes, 17 seconds.
Having landed in a dense forest hundreds of miles from the nearest recovery teams, Belyaev and Leonov were were located about four hours later and a rescue team arrived the next day. A landing zone was cut in the forest and the cosmonauts were flown out by helicopter on 21 March.