Tools specially adapted for doing tasks in space allow astronauts to accomplish critical work in and outside their spacecraft.
Manned Maneuvering UnitSmithsonian's National Air and Space Museum
The Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU) is a backpack propulsion device that gave astronauts mobility for work outside the Space Shuttle. It enabled them to fly some distance away from the spacecraft without needing anchored safety tethers.
Mission: Space Shuttle 41-B, Challenger: Bruce McCandless making the first untethered space walk with the manned maneuvering unit (M. M. U.) (February 3, 1984 - February 11, 1984, printed c. 1991) by AmericanThe Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Bruce McCandless made the first untethered spacewalk using the MMU in 1984. He flew some 300 feet away from the Shuttle.
"I was very pleased to be selected to be the first to fly the Manned Maneuvering Unit ... sort of a human satellite or a human cannonball if you will." Bruce McCandless
Sally Ride Shuttle ChecklistSmithsonian's National Air and Space Museum
Extensive training in classrooms and simulators prepares astronauts for nearly every possible scenario, but checklists helped ensure successful missions.
This is Sally Ride’s Space Shuttle Mission STS-7 Ascent Checklist, showing her highlighting and handwritten notes.
Tethers, handholds, and footholds are critical in space. Without them astronauts could float away from their spacecraft.
This type of tether was used to secure tools and other equipment to the space vehicles and prevent astronauts from floating away. The two-part mechanisms on the latches prevent accidental detachment.
Handrails provide a safe path and sturdy anchor for astronauts working outside a spacecraft. Their yellow color makes them easy to see against the white, silver, and black materials normally used on spacecraft and payloads.
Using the Remote Manipulator by NASASmithsonian's National Air and Space Museum
Foot restraints ensured the safety and effectiveness of astronauts working on the Hubble Space Telescope. When attached to the end of the robotic arm, this device became a mobile work station. The optional handhold could be attached for additional stability and tool storage. This unit flew on multiple servicing missions.
This jointed robotic arm, known as the Canadarm or Remote Manipulator System arm, was used to move payloads and position astronauts working outside the Space Shuttle. The arm was controlled by an astronaut stationed inside the spacecraft.
Working on Hubble by NASASmithsonian's National Air and Space Museum
Although the arm can lift large masses in space, the arm cannot support its own weight on Earth. The Museum’s Canadarm flew on 15 missions.
Image: Astronaut Story Musgraves uses the Canadarm during the first Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission in 1993.
This IMAX camera flew on 12 space shuttle missions in the 1980s and 1990s. Astronauts were trained on how to operate the camera and how to act like cinematographers to capture footage used in several IMAX feature films.
Velcro, bumpers, and other adjustments made the camera easier to use in zero-g.
Astronaut strapped into cycling equipment while in space. by NASASmithsonian's National Air and Space Museum
Astronauts stay fit in space through daily exercise using a treadmill or cycle ergometer, helping to reduce the loss of bone and muscle mass that occurs during spaceflight.