These Boots are Made for Spacewalking

Difficulty: Moderate

Duration: 45 minutes

Materials: Moderate


Download the PDF version (1.2 MB)

Background

When an astronaut performs a spacewalk outside the International Space Station (ISS), it is called an extravehicular activity, or EVA for short. EVAs are physically and mentally demanding and can sometimes last longer than eight hours. Astronauts must use their hands and arms to move along the handrails located on the exterior of the ISS. They must complete complex tasks such as replacing batteries and upgrading systems. On David Saint-Jacques' recent mission, he completed a six hour and 29 minute spacewalk. David and his colleague, NASA astronaut Anne McClain, relocated a battery adapter plate and upgraded the wireless communication system. They also connected electrical cables to establish an alternate path of power to Canadarm2. You can find out more about David's spacewalk here:

Before going to space, astronauts prepare for EVAs in a large swimming pool called the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. This is one of the reasons that astronauts must be good swimmers. You can find out more here:

EVAs are an essential part of maintaining the ISS. Astronauts performing an EVA must be physically fit because they have to exert themselves over a long period of time. They must also remain mentally alert to carry out their tasks. An EVA can be very challenging, but the view is out of this world!

First spacewalk for David Saint-Jacques

David Saint-Jacques on his first spacewalk. (Credit: Canadian Space Agency/NASA)

Mission description

During this mission, participants will challenge themselves both physically and mentally. Astronaut crews of three will simulate moving around the outside of the ISS on a grid while completing dynamic physical exercises. When they reach their destination, they will complete several brain teaser puzzles (see participant handout) to simulate the complex challenge of fixing and upgrading systems on the ISS after physical exertion.

Timeline

Description Duration
Background 5 minutes
View videos (optional) 5 minutes
Activity explanation and demonstration 10 minutes
Group activity 20 minutes
Wrap-up 5 minutes
Total 45 minutes

Goal

To complete a combination of physically and mentally demanding tasks to simulate an EVA.

Objectives

By the end of this mission, participants will be able to:

Mission preparation (on land)

Materials

Set-up

Mission instructions

Layout

  1. Participants organize themselves into astronaut crews of three.
  2. The crew must travel along the grid on the floor while performing a physically demanding exercise. (The exercise and the size and shape of the grid are left to the discretion of the activity facilitator. See PDF for suggestions.)
  3. When the crew reaches their pile of puzzles on the other side of the play space, they must complete one brain teaser in its entirety.
  4. Once the puzzle is complete, crews must verify their answers with the activity facilitator.
  5. If the puzzle is correct, the crew can head back to the starting line, again using the grid and performing a physically demanding exercise.
  6. Repeat steps 2 to 5 until all puzzles are completed correctly.
  7. After the third puzzle, crews must travel along the grid back to the starting line once more to complete their mission.

Mission preparation (pool)

Materials

Set-up

Mission instructions

  1. Participants organize themselves into astronaut crews of three.
  2. The crew must travel along the path designated by the activity facilitator.
  3. When crews reach their puzzles, they must exit the water and dry off.
  4. Crews complete one brain teaser in its entirety.
  5. Once the puzzle is complete, crews must verify their answers with the activity facilitator.
  6. If the puzzle is correct, the crew can get back in the pool and complete the course in reverse to the starting line.
  7. Repeat steps 2 to 6 until both puzzles are completed.
  8. After the second puzzle is complete, crews must travel along the course back to the starting line one last time to complete their mission.

Download the participant handout (PDF, 768 KB)

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