What’s a better way to end Women’s History Month than by sending off women to space? This is a major milestone in history considering that since 1961, almost 550 people have traveled to space but less than 11% have been women, according to Big Think.
March 29, 2019 will be a milestone for astronauts Anne McClain and Christina Koch. If all goes as planned, these two women will head to outer space to perform exterior work on the International Space Station (ISS). Not only will these two women be making history up above, but down below there will be a group of women acting as lead flight controllers. Women in the World states, “Jackie Kagey will serve as the lead EVA (spacewalk) flight controller, while Mary Lawrence acts as lead flight director. Kristen Facciol from the Canadian Space Agency will also reportedly provide necessary ground support.”
Left: Christina Koch. Right: Anne McClain.
Having women in space, as well as women continuing to hold down the fort back on Earth, is opening up more opportunities for women involved with space flight. This event in particular is significant because spacewalks are very rare, potentially dangerous, and in the past have been conducted by only males or with male and female teams. According to Axios, “The first American woman in space was Sally Ride, who flew with the space shuttle Challenger in 1983.” Before this, the first woman to enter space was Russian astronaut, Valentina Tereshkova, in 1963. Since then, the gender gap still exists between men and women in regard to space travel due to historical attitudes towards women in certain career fields.
Though Koch and McClain will be outside the ISS for around seven hours, this period of time is enough to be inspiring to girls around the globe. NASA selected Anna McClain in 2013. NASA also states that the Washington native earned a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical/Aeronautical Engineering from West Point and earned a Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering. “Lieutenant Colonel McClain, a Senior Army Aviator, has more than 2,000 flight hours in 20 different aircraft,” they report.
NASA also selected Christina Koch as an astronaut in 2013. The Michigan native graduated with Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and Physics from North Carolina State University. According to NASA, she also earned a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering, stating, “Koch has experience both in space science instrument development and remote scientific field engineering.”
The credibility and experience from both of these women make them excellent candidates for this historic moment. Hopefully in the future more women will be able to partake in spaceflight without question or hesitation. It may not seem like it but space flights and exploration is pivotal to our future, however both women and men need to be able to make contributions to new research and discoveries.
Laura Giddings, Education Events Manager at RS Components says it best, “The fact is, women make up 50% of the population and, if we want to create a world for everyone, should have an equal voice in all sectors.”