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Edward Higgins White, II (Lt.Col , USAF) (November 14, 1930 – January 27, 1967) was an engineer, United States Air Force officer and a NASAmarker astronaut. On June 3, 1965, he became the first American to conduct a spacewalk. White was killed along with fellow astronauts Gus Grissom and Roger Chaffee during a training exercise and pre-launch test for the first Apollo mission at the Kennedy Space Centermarker. White was posthumously awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor and had previously been awarded the NASA Space Flight Medal for his Gemini 4 spaceflight.

Early years

He was born in San Antonio, Texasmarker where he was a Second Class Scout in the Boy Scouts of America and earned a B.S. from the U.S.marker Military Academymarker in 1952, and an M.S. in aeronautical engineering from the University of Michiganmarker in 1959. He attained the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Air Force and was a pilot of F-86 and F-100 fighter jets. White was an experimental test pilot for the Aeronautical Systems Division and logged more than 3,000 flight hours, including 2,200 in jet aircraft. He was married to Patricia Finegan White and had two children, Bonnie Lynn and Edward III.

NASA career

He was chosen as part of second group of astronauts in 1962. Within an already elite group, White was considered a high-flyer by the NASA management. As pilot of Gemini 4, he was the first American to make a spacewalk (on June 3, 1965). During his EVA an extra thermal glove floated away from inside the Gemini spacecraft, which is now a piece of Space Debris. He was later a backup command pilot for Gemini 7.

White was also made Astronaut specialist for the flight control systems of the Apollo CSM. By the usual process of crew rotation in the Gemini program, White would have been in line for a second orbital flight as Command Pilot of Gemini 10 — making him the first of his group to be selected to fly twice — but instead was promoted in 1966 to be command module pilot for the first fateful Apollo program flight AS-204.


Crew photo, Apollo 1.
He died with fellow astronauts "Gus" Grissom and Roger Chaffee in the Apollo 1 fire at Kennedy Space Centermarker, Floridamarker. He was buried with full military honors at West Point Cemetery and in 1997 was posthumously awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor. Grissom and Chaffee are both buried in Section 3 of Arlington National Cemeterymarker. Ed White was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Famemarker on July 18, 2009.




Many schools have been named in honor of Colonel White:


In Space

  • The star Iota Ursae Majoris was named "Dnoces" ("Second", as in "Edward Higgins White the Second", spelled backwards) in his honor.
  • White Hill, 11.2 km (7.0 mi) northwest of Columbia Memorial Station on Mars, is named after him as part of the Apollo 1 Hills.


  • Eight months after his death, in September 1967, a postage stamp was issued by the United States Post Office, commemorating White's space walk, the first-ever by an American. It was the first time in USPO history that the design was actually spread over two stamps (one which featured White, the other his Gemini capsule, the two connected by a tether), which was considered befitting the "twins" aspect of the Gemini mission. White's name did not appear on the stamps.

White in the movies

White was played by Steven Ruge in the 1995 film Apollo 13 and by Chris Isaak in the 1998 miniseries From the Earth to the Moon.

Physical description

  • Weight: 176 lb (80 kg)
  • Height: 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
  • Hair: Reddish Brown
  • Eyes: brown

See also


External links

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