NASA's Historic All-Female Spacewalk

Oct. 18, 2019 was a very historic day. This was the day of NASA’s first all-female spacewalk. The original date set for the first all-female spacewalk was scrapped because of “spacesuit availability” in March of this year, but the historical event took place on Oct. 18 at 6:30 p. m. Eastern Standard Time. Astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir teamed up for this spacewalk.

Koch arrived on the International Space Station on March 14, 2019 for her first spaceflight mission. She will remain on the station until Feb. 2020, making her time on the station the longest spaceflight by a woman. Koch’s mission will surpass that of Peggy Whitson, who spent 288 consecutive days in space, and she will end just shy of the longest single spaceflight by a NASA astronaut- 340 days, set by Scott Kelly.

Meir arrived on the space station for her first mission the week of her and Koch’s spacewalk. After arriving on the space station, Meir shared an image of her hugging Koch which she captioned “This is how it feels when in addition to your childhood dream being fulfilled by arriving to @Space_Station, you’re greeted by your Astro-brothers and sisters on the other side of the hatch.” Meir not only joined Koch for her first spacewalk, she is also set to conduct a spacewalk with European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano.

Meir and Koch have trained together for the past six years because they are members of the same astronaut class. Meir will be on board the station for more than six months.

The walk, which lasted seven hours and 17 minutes included a brief call with President Trump, was “bound to happen eventually because of the increasing number of female astronauts,” according to NASA. The milestone attracted far more attention than any past spacewalks. American officials pointed to the agency’s ambitious goals to put the first women and the next man on the moon.

Women were only first admitted into NASA’s astronaut program beginning in 1978, and American women did not fly into space until Sally Ride did so in 1983. Astronaut Kathryn D. Sullivan was the first American women to perform a spacewalk in 1984.

President Trump congratulated Koch and Meir on this momentous occasion saying, “you’re doing an incredible job; this is a first step, because we’re going to the moon, and then we’re going to Mars.”

He addressed the moment as “the first time for a woman outside of the space station,” a false statement that Meir gently corrected. She is the 15th woman to do a spacewalk, but up until Oct. 18, all of these female astronauts were paired with male collogues.

The goal of the spacewalk was to “help replace solar array batteries and upgrade them to lithium-ion batteries, as well as refurbish the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, a scientific instrument that ‘explores the fundamental nature of the universe,’ according to NASA.

To conduct a spacewalk with two female astronauts was definitely a big accomplishment for NASA, and not to mention had some badass women power!

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