The First US Spacewalk


Though Alexei Leonov was the first man to walk in space, the first American to walk in space stepped out into the black a few  years after Leonov.

Ed White

Edward Higgins “Ed” White II performed his spacewalk as part of the Gemini 4 mission. On 3rd June 1965 Ed White stepped out into space and enjoyed the experience so much he didn’t want to return to the spacecraft at the end of the allotted time for the EVA. He had to be ordered back inside.

During his spacewalk, one of the spare thermal gloves floated out of the open hatch and became one of the first items of space debris in low orbit, though it burned up on re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere.

Like many space flights, there was an element of near disaster that came with the Gemini 4 mission. There was a mechanical problem  with the hatch mechanism. This made it difficult to open and shut. It was even difficult to relatch. The men managed to secure the hatch.If they hadn’t been able to, the lives of both Ed White and the Command Pilot, James McDivitt would have been in danger.

Tragedy was not far away

In March 1966, Ed White was selected as the Senior Pilot for the Apollo flight AS-204. Also assigned to this mission were Virgil ‘Gus’ Grissom and Roger Chaffee. During a test of the craft on 27th January 1967, a fire broke out in the cabin. The cabin was filled with pure oxygen. The three men were all killed by asphyxiation and smoke inhalation.

White’s job was to open the hatch cover in an emergency. The position his body was found in showed that he had attempted to do so, but opening the hatch was impossible. The plug door design needed venting and due to the location of the fire, Grissom couldn’t reach the cabin vent control.

The cause of the fire was never determined, however many safety problems were addressed after the fire.

Ed White was posthumously awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor in 1997 along with Roger Chaffee but President Clinton. Gus Grissom had received his posthumous Congressional Space Medal of Honor in 1978.

Other recipients of the Congressional Space Medal of Honor include Pete Conrad, Neil Armstrong, John Glenn, Alan Shepard, Frank Borman, John Young, Jim Lovell, Shannon Lucid, Thomas P. Stafford, Kalpana Chawla, Christa McAuliffe and Laurel B. Clark

In Exchange is currently available for pre-order for Smashwords, iBooks, Kobo, Barnes and Noble and Kindle readers, priced at $2.99, and will be officially launched on 12th April 2016.

The Space Race


The space race started in the late 1950s.

The Soviet Union and the USA were locked into the Cold War and getting man into space and onto the moon first was what the space race was all about. Of course it was a little more complicated than simply wanting to be first.

The two powers wanted to prove their their particular system of governance was better – the Soviet Union had communism and the United States had capitalism. Whichever side had the superior technology and military firepower would prove it had the superior political-economic system.


Sputnik was launched on 4th October 1957 and was the first artificial satellite that was put into orbit. It’s launch was a surprise to the Americans, especially since it was launched using a Soviet R-7 intercontinental ballistic missile.

Explorer 1

In 1958 the US launched their own satellite, Explorer 1 and President Eisenhower signed the public order that created NASA – the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Luna 2

Luna 2 was the Soviets next big push into space, as it was the first space probe to hit the moon.

Yuri Gagarin

Then came yet another first by the Soviets – on 12th April 1961, Yuri Gagarin became the first man to orbit the earth in Vostock 1. Alan Shepard became the first American in space on 5th May 1961, though he didn’t orbit the earth. It wasn’t until February 1962 when John Glenn went into space that the Americans orbited the earth.

The Apollo Program

In May 1961, President John F. Kennedy made a very bold statement – that the US would land a man on the moon before the end of the decade.

Throughout the 1960s, 34,000 NASA employees and 375,000 contractors poured their efforts into getting man on the moon.

On 27th January 1967, the Apollo 1 tragedy claimed the lives of Edward White, Command Pilot; Virgil ‘Gus’ Grissom, Commander and Roger Chaffee, Pilot. The Apollo 1 spacecraft caught fire during a launch simulation and the three astronauts couldn’t escape the flames.

In December 1968, Apollo 8 was launched as the first manned space mission to orbit the moon.

Apollo 11

On 16th July 1969 Neil Armstrong, Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin and Michael Collins blasted off in Apollo 11 to attempt the first moon landing in history.

Of course we know now that they were successful and the immortal words “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” have become forever etched into our minds, but at the time there were no guarantees and more than a few nervous people anxiously waiting to hear whether the United States had done the unimaginable and actually put a man on the moon.

The End of the Space Race

By landing on the moon, the United States had won the space race. The Soviets still tried to make their own moon landing, and had four failed attempts between 1969 and 1972. One of these attempts included a launch-pad explosion in July 1969.

As the United States had won the space race, public interest in lunar missions began to dwindle and the Apollo 13 mission was barely mentioned or even broadcast until it encountered a catastrophic failure during the mission flight.

Yet today, we are still fascinated by space, the exploration of it and the possibility that we will one day travel between different worlds and discover new life out there amongst the stars.

In Exchange is currently available for pre-order for Smashwords, iBooks, Kobo, Barnes and Noble and Kindle readers, priced at $2.99, and will be officially launched on 12th April 2016.