The first all-women spacewalk is finally happening. The spacewalk is planned on Mar. 29, 2019 for duo astronauts Anne McClain and Christina Koch. McClain and Koch will leave the International Space Station to conduct work outside the spacecraft. Hopefully, this all-women spacewalk will become the new normal. Both women were part of the 2013 astronaut class, 50% of whom were women. It will be McClain’s first ISS spacewalk, as well as Koch’s first spaceflight. Koch will be joining the team with McClain and arriving on the Roscosmos Soyuz aircraft later this month at the space station. This is such a great way for Women’s History Month to be celebrated. These two women are doing justice to their predecessors who have paved the way for future leaders, like Svetlana Savitskaya, the first woman to carry out a spacewalk in 1984.
McClain and Koch are not the only two working to make this happen. There are women on the ground conducting them from the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Mary Lawrence is serving as the lead flight director and Jackie Kagey is serving as the lead spacewalk flight controller, along with Kristen Facciol providing support as well. Kristen Facciol took to Twitter to announce the history-making moment, explaining her excitement to be a part of empowering women in the STEM field. We love women supporting women!
Reasons for carrying out spacewalks range from doing maintenance on the exterior of the space station, conducting experiments and testing out new equipment. This particular spacewalk is planned as a series of three spacewalks, with this particular one lasting about 7 hours while they will be replacing batteries on the space station.
Christina Koch graduated with two Bachelors degrees in Electrical Engineering and Physics, after which she received her Master's degree in Electrical Engineering. Christina posted on Twitter showing off the rocket Soyuz that will take her to the ISS.
Courtesy: Twitter @Astro_Christina
“Fits like a glove. Today the Soyuz spacecraft was mounted inside the Soyuz rocket upper fairing! Last glimpse of the vehicle we ride in until it’s docked to the @Space_Station. In this case, both the spacecraft and the rocket are named Soyuz (Союз), which means “Union” in English.”
Anne McClain graduated from the U.S Military Academy where she earned her bachelors in Mechanical Engineering. After, she received two Master's degrees in Aerospace Engineering and in international security. McClain was deployed in Iraq where she served as a helicopter pilot. After being chosen for the 2013 astronaut group, she became the youngest astronaut on NASA’s roster at 33 years old. McClain has also taken to Twitter to show how she is preparing for the spacewalk physically.
Courtesy: Twitter @AstroAnnimal
“Earth’s 3rd day started with getting the blood (plasma?) pumping! First the treadmill, then weights - he even got some deadlifts in with me. It is important to exercise every day, not just for our muscles but also to protect our bones from losing density in microgravity.”
A spokesperson from NASA spoke to CNN about the spacewalk saying that “It was not orchestrated to be this way; these spacewalks were originally scheduled to take place in the fall.” Since it was delayed, it makes for a celebratory time taking place during Women’s History Month. Not only are these women creating world history, but they have shown in the past to be champions of STEM, with McClain as a leader in serving our country as well.
NASA is broadcasting the spacewalk on Mar. 29 at 6:30 a.m. ET.