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Stephen L. Carter

When Space Could Still Awe

Fifty years after first U.S. spacewalk, we're largely earthbound.
What a view.

What a view.

Source: NASA

I can still remember the Life magazine cover. Fifty years ago today, on June 3, 1965, Edward White walked in space. Two weeks later -- time ran differently back then -- the brightly colored image of the U.S. astronaut bobbing above a sea-blue earth was in every living room.

True, a Soviet cosmonaut, Alexei Leonov, had accomplished the same feat two and a half months earlier. But the celebration of White’s achievement involved more than jingoism. The photographs of the American dangling in space left us breathless with wonder. Before considering why that awe was important, let's take a moment and consider what the era was like.