Astronaut Edward H. White II, Gemini 4 pilot, floating in space. 3 June 1965.This first-ever U.S. extravehicular activity (EVA) was performed during the third revolution of the Gemini 4 spacecraft. White is attached to the spacecraft by a 25-foot umbilical line and a 23-foot tether line, both wrapped in gold tape to form one cord. In his right hand White carries a Hand-Held Self-Maneuvering Unit. The visor of his helmet is gold plated to protect him from the unfiltered rays of the sun. Gemini 4 was launched on June 3, 1965. NASA wasn’t planning a spacewalk until Gemini 6, scheduled for late 1965, but after Russian cosmonaut Alexei Leonov made the first EVA in March, it was decided that White would walk-in-space. The environmental control system that would deliver oxygen and maintain atmospheric pressure in the EVA astronaut’s space suit was not ready and advised that a chest-mounted pressure controller be designed in-house, combined with an emergency source of oxygen. An umbilical line would be built that could be plugged into the spacecraft and plugged into the suit. It was done and Edward H. White II became the first American to walk in space. On January 27, 1967, White tragically died in the Apollo 1 space capsule fire.

Astronaut Edward H. White II, Gemini 4 pilot, floating in space. 3 June 1965.

This first-ever U.S. extravehicular activity (EVA) was performed during the third revolution of the Gemini 4 spacecraft. White is attached to the spacecraft by a 25-foot umbilical line and a 23-foot tether line, both wrapped in gold tape to form one cord. In his right hand White carries a Hand-Held Self-Maneuvering Unit. The visor of his helmet is gold plated to protect him from the unfiltered rays of the sun.

Gemini 4 was launched on June 3, 1965. NASA wasn’t planning a spacewalk until Gemini 6, scheduled for late 1965, but after Russian cosmonaut Alexei Leonov made the first EVA in March, it was decided that White would walk-in-space. The environmental control system that would deliver oxygen and maintain atmospheric pressure in the EVA astronaut’s space suit was not ready and advised that a chest-mounted pressure controller be designed in-house, combined with an emergency source of oxygen. An umbilical line would be built that could be plugged into the spacecraft and plugged into the suit. It was done and Edward H. White II became the first American to walk in space. On January 27, 1967, White tragically died in the Apollo 1 space capsule fire.