My First Steps in Space

Article excerpt

My first steps in space

ONLY the unforgettable moments at the take-off and the recollection of the long months of flight training forced me to believe in the reality of the scene that unfolded before my eyes as I viewed the spaceship while I floated through the vacuum of space. Voskhod II sailed with an awesome majesty.

Before me, blackness--an inky-black sky studded with stars that glowed but did not twinkle; they seemed immobilized. Nor did the sun look the same as when seen from Earth. It had no aureole or corona; it resembled a huge incandescent disc that seemed embedded in the velvet black of the sky of outer space. Space itself appeared as a bottomless pit. It will never be possible to see the cosmos the same way on Earth.

Below me our blue planet drifted by. It did not look round but completely flat, like a giant physical map. Only the curvature of the horizon showed that it was round.

Two minutes after the ship had been placed in orbit, Pavel Belyayev, Commander of Voskhod II, and I began making preparations for my exit into space.

When we were over Kamchatka, Commander Belyayev helped me to put on the cylinder containing my air supply. I checked the connexions linking my breathing mixture to the spacesuit. Belyayev opened the inner door of the air lock. Together we fastened to my spacesuit the tether cable that would keep me attached to the ship. Built into the tether was the telephone cable that would be my link with the ship and Earth. I unstrapped myself from the seat and floated into the chamber of the air lock.

I gave a hand signal to the Commander. The inner door closed behind me. Belyayev at once began to empty the chamber of air in order to equalize the pressure with that outside the ship. I could feel this happening from the way my spacesuit became inflated. Suddenly the outer door of the air lock opened into space. …