THIS DAY IN HISTORY: Astronaut T.K. (Ken) Mattingly Performs Spacewalk Over 40 Years Ago
By NASA // April 25, 2016
April 25, 1972
(NASA) – On April 25, 1972, Astronaut T.K. (Ken) Mattingly performed a deep space extravehicular activity (EVA, or spacewalk) to retrieve film from the Apollo 16 Service Module while they were en route back to Earth.
In this picture, Mattingly is wearing the helmet with the red stripe (which was actually mission commander John Young’s helmet) and the Lunar Module Pilot Charlie Duke is in the left foreground assisting Mattingly.
Mattingly’s EVA was one of only three deep space EVAs to have taken place so far (not including lunar surface EVAs). The other two deep space EVAs were carried out in the same fashion, for the same purpose on Apollo 15 and Apollo 17.
All three EVAs occurred after the engine burn that flung the astronauts back towards the Earth, and after the Lunar Module was jettisoned. To perform the EVA, the command module had to be depressurized, and, therefore, all three astronauts had to be wearing their space suits.
Additionally, the astronauts remained attached to the Command Module’s life support system by umbilicals; they did not use self-contained Primary Life Support Systems.
In the coming decades, we may see a shift in the meaning of the term “deep space” EVA.
After all, our current standard for “deep space” is no farther than the Moon, mighty close by astronomical standards.