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Astronaut White Will Walk In Space On June 3

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Astronaut White Will Walk In Space On June 3

HOUSTON, Tex. (AP) — Strolling through space at 17,500 miles per hour about 100 miles above the earth could be hard work for any astronaut.

The man who is scheduled to take such a walk June 3 is ready for it.

Edward H. White II officially got the assignment Tuesday from Dr. Robert R. Gilruth, Manned Spacecraft Center director.

The 34-year-old Air Force major will climb out of his Gemini-4d spacecraft over Guaymas, Mexico, during the second orbit, and cavort through space for about 10 to 12 minutes before he climbs back into the cabin over the Florida coast.

The daring feat will be one of two firsts for the United States, the longest mission — four days — and the first astronaut to leave his cramped spaceship to venture into space.

Soviet cosmonaut Alexei Leonov was the first human to leave his spaceship. He somersaulted before European television cameras March 18.

No television cameras will watch White. His flight partner, command pilot James A. McDivitt, will take pictures through the spacecraft's windows. The entire exercise will take about 22 minutes.

White is in superb physical condition. "He could run the mile. Fight a 10-round boxing match. Swim 20 miles. And do about anything that would require physical endurance," said Dr. Charles Berry, physician in charge of astronauts' heatlh.

The ruddy-complexioned father of two switched to flying after graduating from West Point.

McDivitt, 35, an Air Force major is in better physical condition than most football players, but White is shades above him.

Both men are University of Michigan graduates.

White is known to his friends as a "physical condition buff." He keeps in shape by running long distances, supplemented by weight lifting, squash, handball, and water skiing.

A friend asked White why he wanted to leave the spacecraft and go into space.

White answered, "that's what I get paid for."

The San Antonio, Tex., native, who is six feet tall and weighs 171 pounds, has practiced leaving and re-entering the spacecraft 110 times in pressure chambers and during weightless flying in a KC13T airplane at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

Special equipment developed for the stroll has been qualified to withstand micrometeorites and the harsh rays of the sun, Gilruth said.

The astronauts will unstow a 25-foot tether line, and an emergency oxygen supply chest pack for the start of the second orbit, said Christopher C. Kraft, flight mission director.

Over Guaymas, White will stand up on his seat after opening his right hatch door and decide whether to go all the way.

If a delay occurs, another attempt would be made on the third orbit, Kraft said.

McDivitt will keep the spacecraft on a steady keel by firing small rocket thrusters so the vehicle won't tumble as the Russians' did.

White will stay in front of the spacecraft — at the small end — where McDivitt can keep an eye on him.

What he does while in space will be left up to him, Kraft said.