Science & Technology

Cosmonaut mission log reveals details of space walk 55 years later

By Fernando Salcines

Moscow, Mar 18 (efe-epa).- Russian cosmonaut Alexei Leonov wrote that he was “in perfect physical condition” 55 years ago in the log of the Voskhod 2 spacecraft after the first spacewalk in history.

The log, which consists of 99 handwritten pages and three typewritten and hand-written annexes, was published on Wednesday by Russian space agency Roscosmos, along with 21 other official documents to mark the 55th anniversary of the first spacewalk.

“During the 50th minute of the spacewalk I changed the pressure to 0.27,” Leonov wrote in another entry.

“The mobility increased and I feel in perfect physical condition.

“The oxygen supply is excellent. During the approaches and distances (to the ship) I got very tired hands.”

Roscosmos described Leonov’s achievement as “an event of great importance for the entire civilisation: for the first time a human being left the limits of a spaceship and went out into space.”

The cosmonaut, who died last year at the age of 85, was off the ship for 12 minutes and nine seconds, attached by a 5.35 meter strap.

The mission was not without unexpected situations.

The walk began when Voskhod 2 was flying over the Black Sea and Leonov, “shot like a cork, began to ‘leonovize'”, a term invented from his last name that describes the state of man when he is in outer space.

From there the problems continued, the worst of which was related to an increase in pressure in Leonov’s spacesuit, which considerably increased its dimensions.

Following instructions, he initially tried to enter the hatch feet first but got stuck due to his swollen suit.

The situation was critical, Leonov could not use his hands inside the suit, oxygen reserves were at barely half an hour and there was five minutes left for the ship to fly through the dark part of the Earth.

He confessed years later that, without consulting anyone, he reduced the pressure and went headlong through the hatch.

There were also problems on the return, because the hatch was not hermetically closed, the automatic defence system did not work and the cosmonauts, when executing the descent with manual controls, landed far away from the planned area.

Sergey Butin, advisor to the CEO of Roscosmos, told Efe: “The new generation has trouble understanding how six decades ago, without supercomputers, when Russia was barely rising from the ruins of World War Two, Russian engineers managed to build ships and calculate flight paths with just one slide rule”.

Voskhod 2’s log details the cosmonauts’ activities from takeoff on 18 March 1965 to landing a day later and highlights the intensity of their journey in space.

Written entirely by hand, the log goes far beyond showing the flight schedule, with few moments to sleep and feed between experiments and observations.

“Even before takeoff, this log was not a blank sheet. Most of it was full, it was a kind of journal written in advance,” Butin explained.

“The cosmonauts only had to add the corresponding annotations according to the plan of observations and experiments.”

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