Selfies are commonplace today and everyone, including Presidents and Chancellors, are in on the fun. However, a selfie taken in outer space is a cut above its terrestrial counterparts. In other words, a space selfie is out of this world, literally, and astronaut Steve Swanson has treated the world to one.
But before we get into his amazing, rare selfie, here is one of the world’s most iconic selfies. Everyone loves a selfie, even those who are saddled with the responsibility of running the world’s leading countries.
NASA astronaut Steve Swanson is not new to selfies. He has other selfies taken aboard the International Space Station (ISS) which he has shared with earth. Here is one:
Astronaut Steve Swanson’s Space Walk
That same year, Steve went on to take what can arguably be considered among the best and most popular selfies ever. In what many might deem to be a dangerous move, Swanson and his American colleague, Rick Mastracchio took an iconic space selfie while performing a spacewalk.
A spacewalk is what it says – an astronaut walking in outer space.
The purpose of the spacewalk was to urgently install a backup computer on the ISS after the critical backup went dead. While the primary computer still had full functionality, NASA deemed its backup replacement to be a priority. The urgency was not unconnected with the function provided by both computers, which is controlling the pointing of the solar wings and radiators on the station.
Space Selfie Time!
Having conferred with the NASA controllers on ground, the crew had to undertake the assignment which lasted just an hour and thirty-six minutes. Upon completion of their spacewalk and tests to confirm functionality of the replacement, the duo found they had extra time and decided to take some rare photos.
Although this incident occurred almost four years ago, their creativity remains admirable. Swanson took the picture, using the earth as a backdrop. It certainly wasn’t an easy shot and required several takes as confirmed by his colleague. Mastracchio’s efforts had yielded little fruit as the bulky size of the spacesuit hindered him from positioning himself for the best possible shot.
However, the difficulties in taking the space selfie did not prevent them from lighting up Twitter almost instantly. Twitter did its magic by giving Mastracchio some 5,010 retweets and 4,170 favourites in record time.
Of course, with social media reaction to this photo, many will wonder why more spacewalks are not being taken. It is difficult to fault NASA on that one given the incident preceding this particular spacewalk. An astronaut had nearly drowned when his helmet got filled with water during a routine spacewalk. Preliminary investigations showed that the water was from the cooling unit of his spacesuit.
While the space agency continued its investigations, it placed all spacewalks on hold. Judging by the reaction of the terrestrial world to that selfie, it may be safe to say it was worth waiting for!
Meanwhile, Steve Swanson is back on earth, having completed his tour of duty. In the future, space selfies will be more commonplace as more humans embrace space travel. But we doubt that selfies taken while spacewalking will ever become so common. Spacewalking is likely to remain a dangerous affair for a very long time.