Forty-five years ago today, on June 3, 1965, astronaut Edward White became the first American to leave the safety of a spacecraft, stepping outside Gemini 4 and into the emptiness of space. Today for The Late Movies, here are a few more famous space firsts.
This is a clip of the first spacewalk, narrated by astronaut Ed White.
On August 16, 1960, Air Force Captain Joseph Kittinger ascended 30 km into the sky aboard a craft called the Excelsior III and leaped back to earth, setting several records including highest balloon ascent, highest parachute jump, longest drogue-fall, and fastest speed by a human being through the atmosphere (624 mph). At a peak of 102,800 feet off the ground, some consider him to be the first man in space.
In 1983, Sally Ride became the first American woman in space, although that was almost 20 years after cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman to leave the planet. Here is an interview with Ride about the trip.
The Space Shuttle Columbia, launched in 1981, became the first craft that could fly in space (and return safely). Here is a clip of its first launch and landing. This shuttle flew 27 missions before tragically breaking up during reentry in 2003, killing all seven people aboard.
And of course, here is the first moonlanding. Enjoy!