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RSC Energia: 32 years ago Svetlana Savitskaya did an EVA

July 25, 2016

Exactly 32 years ago on July 25, 1984 the world’s first woman did an EVA. Pilot-cosmonaut of the USSR Svetlana SAVITSKAYA tested the welding equipment and other complex technological operations in a high vacuum.

The spacewalk was implemented from Orbital Station Salyut-7. Flight engineer SAVITSKAYA worked in tandem with commander of the visiting crew Vladimir DZHANIBEKOV.

In her book Yesterday and Today Svetlana Evgenievna wrote: Working in the environment where only the suit shell separates a person from a high vacuum forces cosmonauts to treat their clothes with special care as the suit inadvertent damage from any cutting or stabbing surface can cause depressurization, and it will be a serious off-nominal situation. In the same fashion as when welding plates in a vacuum the beam at the outlet of the apparatus had a temperature more than 1000 deg. Celsium and burnt even metal.

Versatile hand tool (VHT) was developed by a group of scientists headed by Academician Boris Evgenievich PATON. Externally VHT was like a movie camera with two lenses but instead of lenses there were electron beam guns. SAVITSKAYA and DZHANIBEKOV in turn performed welding operations, cut metal, soldered and silvered metal surfaces. All this was recorded on TV camera and transmitted to the Earth to the Mission Control Center where specialists who had created VHT could see its operation and promptly advise cosmonauts via feedback through the headphones.
 
The most uncomfortable actions in the spacesuit are those which require small but precise actions, – SAVITSKAYA says. – And in space to me, for example, it was much easier to move a large VHT container than open and close a small lock of the securing device which is necessary to secure any movable in space object.

A working shift in space lasted 3 hours 35 minutes. The cosmonauts successfully coped with all the tasks. The equipment and the obtained samples were moved back to the Station and the Soviet scientists announced that for the first time the cosmonauts managed to perform the welding operations in space. In the international press SAVITSKAYA and DZHANIBEKOV were called “space metallurgists”. At the time Svetlana SAVITSKAYA held a position of Deputy Head of NPO Energia Department (1983 – 1994).

 

RSC Energia press service

 

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