BBC 6 minute English-The first space walk

BBC 6 minute English-The first space walk

BBC 6 minute English-The first space walk


Transcript of the podcast

NB: This is not a word-for-word transcript

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, you mean

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 – ۵۰۰km from the surface of Earth. And that’s the subject of today’s show

Neil: What on earth must that 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 moving on, 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 – ۱۲ 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 sailing – in 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 up – like 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

INSERT Helen Sharman, first Briton in space

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 … 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 hand – which they had never done before

Neil: And that’s not all. Their capsule failed to detach – or separate – from 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 squeeze – their 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! Well done

Rob: Excellent. Good! So 12 minutes eh? What an amazing short stroll that must have been but a very historic one too

Neil: 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

Well, that’s the end of today’s 6 Minute English. We thought it was out of this world – hope you thought so too! Please join us again soon

Both: Bye

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