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A comment to this answer makes the claim

humans are so impaired in space that their ability to repair anything is ridiculously low (hours of preparation and debriefing even for a five-minute EVA, and they're seriously exhausted)

Request for clarification showed that this wasn't meant to be hyperbole and that the information came from a "press article".

Keeping in mind that shuttle EVA time officially started when the Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) was switched to internal power, and ended when it was switched back to Orbiter power1, so IVA tool prep, donning, doffing, airlock pressurization and depressurization, etc, are excluded.

Given that, what was the "five-minute EVA" referenced? Was it the shortest EVA ever? If not, what was the shortest EVA ever?

(It doesn't have to be a shuttle EVA but please try and similarly exclude all the pre- and post- time if possible )

1 Space Shuttle Flight Rules, Section A15-1, EVA Time Definition

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  • $\begingroup$ I suspect that answer was more a metaphor than referring to a historical EVA. I don't keep track of every EVA done, but I know up to the last Hubble Refit mission there wasn't some 5 minute EVA in any recent history. I doubt any of the pre-Apollo tether tests would be relevant. $\endgroup$ Jan 3 at 14:53
  • $\begingroup$ @DavidC.Rankin I never heard of such a thing, hence the question. $\endgroup$ Jan 3 at 14:54
  • $\begingroup$ Shortest EVA - 3:07, STS-16 was the shortest I could find. That's 3 hours 2 minutes longer than the mythical 5 minute EVA :) $\endgroup$ Jan 3 at 15:03
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    $\begingroup$ Would it be possible to please edit in what EVA stands for, for all the people coming from the hot network questions list (like myself) who aren't familiar with the acronym? $\endgroup$
    – eipi
    Jan 4 at 7:03
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    $\begingroup$ @eipi EVA = Extra-Vehicular Activity, i.e. spacewalk. It's a common abbreviation in media reports of space travel. $\endgroup$
    – Barmar
    Jan 4 at 15:58
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As far as I've been able to find, the shortest EVA in history was also the first: Alexei Leonov's spacewalk on Voskhod 2 at 12 minutes, 9 seconds.

On the US, side, Ed White's Gemini IV spacewalk lasted 20 minutes.

Neither of these spacewalks was particularly tiring up to the point where the astronauts tried to return to the cabin, since, unlike later EVAs, no challenging tasks were attempted by either. Leonov struggled to get back into the cramped airlock because his suit was stiff and inflated with internal pressure; he had to use an emergency valve to partially depressurize his suit in order to get back inside. Similarly, when White returned to Gemini 4, he and McDivitt struggled to get the hatch closed and latched properly. Thus, both of those EVAs might have been "exhausting", but not strictly because of the difficulty of working in EVA.

There have been a few "stand-up" EVAs, where a cabin was depressurized and a crewperson partially exited the spacecraft, including Mike Collins on Gemini 10, Buzz Aldrin on Gemini 12, and David Scott on Apollo 15; even these were each over 30 minutes.

Given the hours of preparation needed for an EVA, there would be little sense in planning a 5-minute excursion. A few have been cut short due to emergencies (notably Luca Parmitano's near-drowning in 2013), but as far as I know, none to the five-minute mark.

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The second shortest spacewalk was performed by Michael Fincke and Gennady Padalka on June 24, 2004 on Expedition 9 at the ISS. There was a problem with Michael Fincke's oxygen tank, and they were forced to cut the EVA short. The total time of this EVA was 14 minutes and 22 seconds. Roughly 2 minutes longer than the first EVA by Alexei Leonev.

This is very likely the shortest EVA in modern spaceflight history.

Also worth mentioning: According to this NASA list of all spacewalks on the ISS since 1998, the shortest 'EVA' was 12 minutes (20 seconds shorter than Alexei Leonev) by Gennady Padalka and Michael Barratt in Expedition 20. However, they never left the Zvezda module and it was an IVA replacing the docking adapter. So this doesn't fit your criteria.

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  • $\begingroup$ Going by "Walking to Olympus" Fincke/Padalka is the shortest ever. nasa.gov/connect/ebooks/walking_to_olympus_vol_2_detail.html I am not sure why Vol 1 of this book lists a longer time for the Leonov EVA than wikipedia does. $\endgroup$ Jan 4 at 0:08
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    $\begingroup$ This nasa article seems to be the same as "Walking to Olympus": nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/spacewalks The shortest EVA was on expedition 20. I updated my answer. However, it was an internal EVA. They never left the spacecraft. $\endgroup$
    – Star Man
    Jan 4 at 0:15
  • $\begingroup$ "Walking to Olympus" calls Barratt/Padalka out as the shortest "spacewalk" ever, but you are right, it was an IVA and not what I asked for. $\endgroup$ Jan 4 at 0:18
  • $\begingroup$ Either way, looks like Padalka was involved! $\endgroup$ Jan 4 at 0:19
  • $\begingroup$ Due to conflicting definitions between the programs and eras, I'm not 100% sure which answer is really correct here. I accepted the other one, but awarded you a bonus. $\endgroup$ Jan 6 at 17:08
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According to here, Russell Schweickart's EVA during Apollo 9 lasted 37 minutes. A mission timeline says the lunar module was depressurized at GET 072:45 and repressurized at 073:53, or 68 minutes. The timeline doesn't list the times that Schweickart's PLSS was disconnected from/reconnected to the LM.

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Checking the Space Shuttle Extravehiclular Activities history provided by NASA, it appears the shortest Space Shuttle EVA was 3:07 (3 hours, 7 minutes) which occurred April 16, 1985 during the STS-51D TELSAT-I mission. The crew members involved in the EVA were David Griggs and Jeffrey Hoffman. An excerpt from the log is:

enter image description here

The mission was the 4th for Discovery (OV-103) and the payload deployed was a SYNCOM IV-3 Communications Satellite.

As mentioned by @Russell Borogove there were likely shorter pre-shuttle EVAs that occurred during Apollo and the lead-up programs. As far as the Shuttle Program goes, it appear 3:07 was the shortest.

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    $\begingroup$ Please clarify: 3 minutes 7 seconds, or 3 hours 7 minutes? If you read your post in isolation, you will see that it really is ambiguous! $\endgroup$
    – TonyK
    Jan 3 at 23:36
  • $\begingroup$ Sorry, yes looking though the entire record, NASA wasn't consistent in including seconds. I don't think they included seconds in the referenced log until the STS-53 mission. I've updated the answer to remove the ambiguity. (trivia: STS-53 was also the last DOD payload for the shuttle program) $\endgroup$ Jan 4 at 3:39

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