Forget Gravity's fictional Matt Kowalski trying to break the record for the longest spacewalk.
Forget Gravity's fictional Matt Kowalski trying to break the record for the longest spacewalk. Susan Helms is the real astronaut (and the first military female in space) who currently co-holds the record with Jim Voss.
After extensive training at NASA, Helms and Voss joined Captain Yury Usachov on a six-month work “trip” to outer space in 2001. The three were the second crew to live on the International Space Station Alpha, which can be seen above Denver twice a day. During the period of 163 days, they conducted experiments, as well as improved the Space Station by ways such as adding an air lock.
“(The space station is) a year-long tinker-toy project,” she said at a talk in Highlands Ranch.
Before the addition of the air lock, the coming-and-departing space shuttles would be the only way to have an air lock to access the outside of the Space Station. A shuttle was the way Helms and Voss got to the outside of the Space Station to set their spacewalk record while performing handiwork on the outside of the station.
“It was too short,” Helms said of her 8 hour 56 minute walk in space.
That could also be put into context regarding her stay at the International Space Station. When they got back, she, Jim, and Yury came up with the conclusion that “Gravity really sucks.”
Helms has since retired from NASA, but still has the inside scoop on space. “It is time for a new approach in sending humans to space. Mars is the right planet to go.”
She went on to add that commercialism and tourism will be picking up in the space industry. Dennis Tito was a tourist who paid an estimated$20 million to visit the Space Station while Helms was there, but she was confident in saying that this generation of children will go to space in their lifetime.