On Friday, Oct. 18, 2019 NASA made history. The space program had its first all-female spacewalk. The two women who participated were astronauts, Christina Koch and Jessica Meir. The astronauts were sent out of the International Space Station to change a battery charge/discharge unit that had failed the previous weekend. The women wore their bulky white spacesuits for over seven hours as they replaced the battery.
This was not the first all-female spacewalk planned. One was actually on schedule for earlier this year in March. Two suits that would fit the women properly were not available, so the details of the spacewalk had to change. Astronaut Anne McClain swapped places with Nick Hague, so that everyone was wearing the suits that fit them. Nick and Christina went on the spacewalks on March 29 and April 8.
Out of the 221 spacewalks, this was the first to be conducted by all females. Jessica Meir had become the 15th woman to walk in space this being her first spacewalk. For Christina Koch, this was her fourth spacewalk. Christina is on the way to breaking the record for the longest single spaceflight by a woman. Expected to return to Earth in February 2020, she will have spent 328 days in space.
The journey for women in space programs has been a long one. The first women were admitted into the astronaut program in 1978, 19 years after the first astronaut program. The first American woman to fly in space was Sally Ride in 1983, and the first woman to spacewalk was Kathyrn D. Sullivan in 1984. The first all woman spacewalk was a huge milestone for NASA and within the next 5 years, they plan to have an even bigger one. NASA is anticipating putting the first woman and next man on the moon in 2024.
These milestones will teach young women that they can become whoever they want to. These women in space programs can be a role model for girls out there with dreams big enough to fill the solar system. Having female representation in places like NASA is so important in today’s society because it gives hope to be ambitious young women.