On March 18, 1965, the first extravehicular activity – or EVA – in space was conducted by Russian cosmonaut Aleksei Leonov, who spent ten minutes outside his Vokshod 2 spacecraft in Earth orbit. Leonov’s historic spacewalk paved the way for all future EVAs, from Ed White’s first American EVA on June 3 of the same year, to all following ones in low-Earth orbit and eventually the surface of the Moon… and back to low-Earth orbit again (where we’ve remained since December 1972.)
Watch footage from the first human spacewalk above, and learn more about Leonov’s experience in space in this Air & Space article here (and find out how close he came to avoiding disaster.)
“Our orbit would soon take us away from the sun and into darkness. It was then I realized how deformed my stiff spacesuit had become, owing to the lack of atmospheric pressure. My feet had pulled away from my boots and my fingers from the gloves attached to my sleeves, making it impossible to reenter the airlock feet first.”
– Aleksei Leonov recalling his 1965 spacewalk (via Air & Space)
Also, the National Air & Space museum has an exhibit on 50 years of EVAs – you can learn more about that online here.