On March 18th, 1965, Soviet Cosmonaut Alexsei Leonov became the first human to ‘walk’ in space. What does this have to do with the Space Elevator? Lots…
A current scenario for building a space elevator is to lift it’s 80 ton (initial weight) into Low Earth orbit via four Shuttle launches. Once it’s there, it’s going to have to be assembled. This will take humans in space suits to complete. Once the Space Elevator is then lifted to Geosynchronous orbit, it will take humans in space suits to maintain it – being able to work in space is a CRITICAL skill for constructing and maintaining a Space Elevator.
So, congratulations Alexsei!
From the Wikipedia entry about this event:
“He was outside the spacecraft for 12 minutes on March 18, 1965, connected to the craft by a five-foot tether. At the end of the 12-minute spacewalk, Leonov’s spacesuit had inflated in the vacuum of space to the point where he could not reenter the airlock. He opened a valve to allow some of the suit’s pressure to bleed off, and was barely able to get back inside the capsule.”
(Picture from Britannica.com)