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  • Rob: Hello and welcome to 6 Minute English. I'm Rob ...

  • Neil: ... and I'm Neil. Hello.

  • Rob: Hello, Neil! I watched that space movie last night,

  • the one where those astronauts are stranded in space.

  • Neil: Stranded means stuck in a place with only a small chance of leaving.

  • Gravity, that was the name of the film?

  • Rob: That's the one. And this year marks the 50th anniversary of the first ever space walk.

  • On 18th March 1965 Russian cosmonaut Alexei Leonov was the first man to drift free in space

  • 500km from the surface of Earth.

  • And that's the subject of today's show!

  • Neil: What on earth must he have felt like?

  • Rob: Ah ha! Exactly. It would have felt like nothing on earth

  • and that's to say, very strange indeed.

  • He was the first person to experience the colourful geography of our planet stretched out before him.

  • Neil: Very poetic, Rob! But how about answering today's quiz question:

  • How long did the first space walk last? Was it... a) 2 minutes?

  • b) 12 minutes?

  • or c) 22 minutes?

  • Rob: Hmm. All quite short so I think I'll go for the one in the middle ─ 12 minutes.

  • Neil: We'll find out if you're right or wrong later on.

  • Now, 'cosmonaut' literally means 'sailor of the universe'.

  • But Leonov's mission wasn't plain sailingin other words, it wasn't easy or straightforward.

  • Rob: That's right. No one had ever gone out into space before it was unknown territory

  • unknown territory means a place or activity that people do not know anything about or have not experienced before.

  • And as it happens, there were big problems.

  • Neil: When Leonov left the capsule his spacesuit inflated

  • or swelled uplike a balloon because the pressure inside the suit was greater than outside.

  • This made it impossible for Leonov to get back through the door of the spacecraft,

  • putting him in a life-threatening situation.

  • Rob: Let's listen to Helen Sharman, the first Briton in space, talking about it.

  • Helen Sharman: So he decreases the pressure of his suit,

  • which means that it's a bit more able to move inside it

  • but it means the amount of oxygen he's got around his face is now dangerously low

  • so he can't cope with that for very long.

  • So if he's not able to get in quickly, he's going to die of oxygen starvation, um

  • [inaudiable]

  • so he had the presence of mind to get on with all of this,

  • got back in, swivelled himself round, managed to close the airlock,

  • and then when the pressure was equilibrated was finally able to, you know, hug his compatriot up there in space.

  • Neil: Now, if you can't cope with something it means you are unable to deal successfully with a difficult situation.

  • And here the situation was having very little oxygen.

  • Rob: But Leonov had the presence of mind to find a solution.

  • Presence of mind means being able to react quickly and stay calm in a difficult or dangerous situation.

  • Neil: And if I was in Leonov's shoes

  • meaning if I was in his situation ─ I would have panicked big time!

  • Rob: And there was plenty more to panic about before the mission was over.

  • The spacecraft's automatic re-entry system failed so the cosmonauts had to fire the rockets manually

  • meaning controlled by handwhich they had never done before.

  • Neil: And that's not all. Their capsule failed to detach

  • or separatefrom the spacecraft's equipment module,

  • and this sent them tumbling through space towards Earth.

  • Rob: But the capsule did finally detach.

  • And then you would think they'd have been home and dry, wouldn't you?

  • Home and dry means being close to achieving a goal.

  • Neil: Well, they certainly weren't dry. The capsule touched down or landed

  • hundreds of kilometres off course in freezing Siberia populated only by wolves and bears.

  • Leonov had sweated so much on the space walk that his boots were filled with water up to his knees!

  • Both cosmonauts had to wring out

  • or twist and squeezetheir clothes to avoid frostbite.

  • Rob: And off course, by the way, means not following the right route.

  • Those men must have been overjoyed when they were finally airlifted to safety two days later!

  • Neil: But what seems unfair to me is, we all know about the Apollo moon landing,

  • but how many of us know about the first space walk?

  • Rob: Well, at least we do now, and of course our listeners do too!

  • Neil: OK, let's have the answer to the quiz question.

  • I asked: How long did the first space walk last? Was it ... a) 2 minutes

  • b) 12 minutes

  • or c) 22 minutes?

  • Rob: I said a) 12 minutes.

  • Neil: And you were right!

  • Rob: Excellent. Good! So 12 minutes eh?

  • What an amazing short stroll that must have been but a very historic one too.

  • Neil: Well done. Now, can we hear today's words again please?

  • Rob: OK. We heard:

  • stranded

  • like nothing on earth

  • plain sailing

  • unknown territory

  • inflated

  • can't cope with something

  • presence of mind

  • in Leonov's shoes

  • manually

  • detach

  • home and dry

  • touched down

  • wring out

  • off course

  • Neil: Well, that's the end of today's 6 Minute English.

  • We thought it was out of this worldhope you thought so too! Please join us again soon.

Rob: Hello and welcome to 6 Minute English. I'm Rob ...

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B1 UK TOEIC rob space detach spacecraft stranded

BBC 6 Minute English_May 14, 2015 - The First Space Walk

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    Adam Huang posted on 2015/05/14
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