Updated February 21, 2017 | Factmonster Staff
  • The Soviet cosmonaut Alexei Leonov was the first person to walk in space. On March 18, 1965, he floated outside his Voskhod 2 spacecraft for more than 10 minutes. Even though his lifeline extended only 171/2 feet, he was able to turn somersaults, perform headstands, and lie perfectly still as he and the ship sailed around Earth.
  • Ed White became the first spacewalking American on June 3, 1965. His craft was Gemini 4.
  • Svetlana Savitskava, a Russian cosmonaut, became the first woman to walk in space on July 25, 1984. Her spacecraft was Soyuz T-12.
  • Story Musgrave and Don Peterson were the first to spacewalk from the shuttle, on April 7, 1983. They were on the shuttle mission STS-6.
  • The first person to walk in space without a tether (like a leash) was Bruce McCandless, on February 7, 1984. He was part of the shuttle mission STS-418.

The First Astronauts

The original American astronauts were Walter Schirra, Jr., Donald K. Slayton, John H. Glenn, Jr., M. Scott Carpenter, Jr., Alan B. Shepard, Jr., Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom, and L. Gordon Cooper, Jr.

The first six Soviet cosmonauts were Yuri Gagarin (first man in space), German Titov, Andriyan Nikolaev, Pavel Popovich, Valery Bykovsky, and Valentina Tereshkova (first woman in space).

In 2003, China became the third country to launch a space program. On Oct. 15, 2003, Lt. Col. Yang Liwei orbited the Earth 14 times in 21 hours, becoming the first Chinese “taikonaut.”

The European Space Agency (ESA) has 15 member nations, but their astronauts have gone into space aboard Russian or American rockets and shuttles.

Déjà Vu

In October 1998, John Glenn, the former U.S. senator and legendary astronaut, became the oldest person to fly in space, 36 years after he became the first American to orbit Earth. NASA decided to include an enthusiastic 77-year-old Glenn in its space shuttle Discovery mission.

Sources +