On 17 July 1975, the crews of the U.S. Apollo and Soviet Soyuz docked in space initiating the first manned space flight conducted jointly by the United States and Soviet Union. The primary purpose of the mission, the Apollo Soyuz Test Project, was to test the compatibility of rendezvous and docking systems for American and Soviet spacecraft and to open the way for international space rescue as well as future joint manned flights. It also symbolized a policy of détente that the two superpowers were pursuing at the time and marked the end of the Space Race between the two nations that began in 1957.
Thirty eight years later, with the International Space Station (ISS), the US and other nations are still working together and conducting joint space missions. On 9 July 2013, two expedition astronauts, from NASA and the European Space Agency, wrapped up a successful 6-hour, 7-minute spacewalk, completing the first of two July excursions to prepare the ISS for a new Russian module and perform additional installations. The spacewalk was the 170th in support of station assembly and maintenance, totaling 1,073 hours, 50 minutes. To read more about the joint NASA spacewalk, click here.
However, despite vast improvements in technology and training, these professionals make such endeavors look routine – but they are anything but routine. This was apparent when U.S. astronaut Chris Cassidy and Italy’s Luca Parmitano were less than an hour into a planned six-hour outing on 16 July 2013, when Parmitano reported what seemed to be water inside his helmet. NASA called off the spacewalk. See http://www.nasa.gov/content/tuesday-spacewalk-ended-early/ for more on this event.