Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Uncertainty 1965

With the space race in full flight by the mid-1960s, stepping outside an orbiting capsule and seeing what would happen became a massive hurdle to leap. The brave USA astronaut to make this great leap was Edward White, on June 3, 1965 - 47 years ago this week, as part of the Gemini space program.

The extra-vehicular activity (EVA) started at 19:45 UT (3:45 p.m. EDT) on Gemini IV's third orbit, when White opened his hatch and used the hand-held maneuvering oxygen-jet gun to push himself out of the capsule. The EVA started over the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii and lasted 23 minutes, ending over the Gulf of Mexico. Initially, White propelled himself to the end of the 8 meter tether and back to the spacecraft three times using the hand-held gun. After the first three minutes the fuel ran out and White maneuvered by twisting his body and pulling on the tether.

I have painted his first moments in space, hurtling at 17,000km/h above the USA. The photographs on which it is based were taken by Commander James McDivitt.

Ed White died in the tragic fire on board Apollo 1 in 1967. One of the bravest ever.

Oil on Canvas
1230mm x 1230mm
Melbourne 2012

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