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According to the lists of spacewalks (1965-1999, 2000-2014), spacewalks have all consisted of only two people. The only exceptions are the very early space missions, where only one person went out, and one spacewalk on STS-49 which had 3 people. It makes sense that you would want more than one person to go out, in case something happens to one of them, and you would still want people inside in case something goes wrong.

Is there a written protocol for spacewalks which determines how many people must go out and how many must stay inside? Or do the various space agencies just play it by ear and try to minimize the number of people who go out?

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  • $\begingroup$ Airlock capacity will be a limiting factor. In an emergency, you don't want people to have to wait outside for the airlock to cycle. $\endgroup$ – Hobbes Mar 14 '17 at 7:11
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"Is there a written protocol for spacewalks which determines how many people must go out and how many must stay inside? "

There was for Shuttle. It's in the book that laid down the law for shuttle operations, the Flight Rules. (Warning, giant pdf)

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  • $\begingroup$ Very interesting. Does there happen to be a similar document available for the ISS? $\endgroup$ – Phiteros Mar 13 '17 at 22:45
  • $\begingroup$ There is a flight rules book for ISS, but I've never seen it posted online. The shuttle rules only got posted because of the Columbia accident. $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Mar 13 '17 at 22:52
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    $\begingroup$ The nuclear war rule is in the linked document, it's rule A14-1. The classified missions had a separate volume for the classified rules. $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Mar 14 '17 at 4:02
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    $\begingroup$ The launch will be held if the nuclear war happens prior to T-31 seconds. Otherwise the count will proceed. (Rule A14-1001 note [2]) $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Mar 14 '17 at 4:04
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    $\begingroup$ @MichaelKjörling I didn't find that page, but yeah, the rules contain rationale in italics. If the writer did not think an actual rationale explanation was necessary, you will see that notation. $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Mar 14 '17 at 12:58

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