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This question made me realise that, really, we don't see many space walks in Star Trek. It got me to thinking about space walks generally in science-fiction and how they've been portrayed (like those in Lost in Space or Thunderbirds). My question is: what is the first instance in science fiction of a space walk being portrayed in film or television?

  • How do you define a space walk? Does it count if some travelers move along the outer surface of a ship while it's in space, or do they have to have intentionally detached from the outer surface while using something like a tether or jetpack to avoid floating away forever? – Hypnosifl Oct 13 '15 at 4:00
  • @Hypnosifl As long as they're in space I'll accept it – Often Right Oct 13 '15 at 4:01
  • Do they have to survive? – Major Stackings Oct 13 '15 at 6:13
  • @RedactedStack nup – Often Right Oct 13 '15 at 6:39
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    Le Voyage Dans la Lune (1902) - they push the rocket to the edge of the moon and everyone but the president gets in. He grabs a rope tied to the end of the outside of the rocket and leaps off the cliff in order to re-space the vehicle, leaving the moon and returning to earth. – J... Oct 13 '15 at 10:43
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A Trip to the Moon (1902)

Although not featuring a typical space walk, I asked in chat and you said for your purposes it would count.

When escaping from the Selenites the crew of astronomers must escape from the moon and get back into space. Here is a quote from a Trip to the Moon Wikipedia describing the event.

The astronomers run back to their capsule while continuing to hit the pursuing Selenites, and five get inside. The sixth astronomer, Barbenfouillis himself, uses a rope to tip the capsule over a ledge on the Moon and into space. A Selenite tries to seize the capsule at the last minute. Astronomer, capsule, and Selenite fall through space and land in an ocean on Earth, where they are rescued by a ship and towed ashore.

I looked at all listed Sci-Fi films up until 1930. Films that took place in space or had a space element to them only took place on different planetary bodies, that is to say that when the characters were outside of the spacecraft they would be on a planet. Apart from the film cited above.

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    "Films that took place in space or had a space element to them only took place on a different planetary bodies" A number of other pre-1930 films showed the process of traveling through space to get to another planetary body, such as Woman in the Moon from 1929, but A Trip to the Moon is probably the first to show someone traveling through space while not actually inside their space vehicle. – Hypnosifl Oct 15 '15 at 3:34
  • @Hypnosifl That is more what I meant, that if they took place in space the only time we would see the characters out of their spaceship would be on a planetary body. I will edit for clarity. Thanks! – CandiedMango Oct 15 '15 at 4:49
  • @CandiedMango : Nice work and +1! :-) – Praxis Oct 15 '15 at 16:00
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Destination Moon (1950)

As far as I know, the 1950 film Destination Moon has the first space walk scene.

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With Destination Moon, George Pal produced the first major US science fiction film to deal with the dangers inherent in human space travel and the possible difficulties of America's first lunar mission landing on and safely returning from our only satellite....

On their way to Moon, they are forced to go outside Luna in zero gravity, wearing magnetic boots to stay on the hull, in order to free a frozen piloting radar antenna greased-up by the inexperienced Sweeney hours before the launch.

(Source)

During their walk on the hull, one astronaut gets detached and another uses an oxygen tank as a "jetpack" to retrieve him before he drifts too far away. (Thanks to @Hypnosifl for reminding me of that particular part of the scene.)

  • Great find - love the futuristic suits! – Often Right Oct 13 '15 at 4:16
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    In that scene, one astronaut also accidentally becomes detached and starts drifting, and another astronaut uses a spare oxygen tank as a makeshift jetpack to go out to reach him and then bring him back to the ship. – Hypnosifl Oct 13 '15 at 4:17
  • @Hypnosifl : Ah, yes. I've added that in. Thanks! – Praxis Oct 13 '15 at 4:22
  • Sorry not to mark this as correct; it is an excellent answer, it's just that under the guidelines of the question, @CandiedMango's answer counts and is earlier than this one! – Often Right Oct 15 '15 at 1:47
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    @N_Soong : In CandiedMango's answer, isn't that a space fall rather than a space walk? Oh well, no worries! It was a great question, and it was fun to answer regardless. :-) – Praxis Oct 15 '15 at 1:55

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