On June 3, 1965, Edward H. White II became the first American to step outside his spacecraft and let go, effectively setting himself adrift in the zero gravity of space.
For 23 minutes White floated and maneuvered himself around the Gemini spacecraft while logging 6,500 miles during his orbital stroll. White was attached to the spacecraft by a 25 foot umbilical line and a 23 foot tether line, both wrapped in gold tape to form one cord. In his right hand, White carries a Hand Held Self Maneuvering Unit, which is used to move about the weightless environment of space. The visor of his helmet is gold plated to protect him from the unfiltered rays of the sun.
Source: www.nasa.gov 23 Mar 2008