NASA made history on Friday, by undertaking the first ever all female crew spacewalk.
The much-anticipated milestone for NASA was achieved by Christina Koch and Jessica Meir who left the International Space Station’s Quest airlock on Friday to replace a failed power control unit on the station’s exterior.
Our #AllWomanSpacewalk is happening today!
Tune in to https://t.co/mzKW5uV4hS to watch @Astro_Christina & @Astro_Jessica embark on their venture to replace a failed power controller:
📺 6:30am ET – Coverage begins
👩🏻🚀 7:50am ET – Our @NASA_Astronauts exit the @Space_Station pic.twitter.com/LUUDIH8g0vLoading...
— NASA (@NASA) October 18, 2019
Originally, NASA had planned an all-female spacewalk in March. But that event,which was to have involved Koch and NASA astronaut Anne McClain, was scrapped because there weren’t enough spacesuits of the right size available on the station. NASA was heavily criticized for not having enough uniforms for two women to participate in a spacewalk together.
NASA noted the historical significance of the mission as it announced the live steaming of the nearly five hour event.
Ms Koch had already carried out four spacewalks but it was the first for MS Meir, who became the 15th woman to walk in space, Nasa said.
Ms Koch, an electrical engineer, and Ms Meir, who has a doctorate in marine biology, stepped outside in their Nasa spacesuits at 11:38 GMT. They made their way to a location called the Port 6 truss structure to replace the a battery charge-discharge unit.
Once the task is complete, Ms Koch and Ms Meir will return to the airlock with the failed BCDU. The device will subsequently be loaded on to the next SpaceX Dragon resupply ship for inspection on Earth.
Previously, 14 women and 213 men have carried out spacewalks. The first woman was the Russian cosmonaut, Svetlana Savitskaya, who went outside the USSR’s Salyut 7 space station in 1984.
Sandra Magnus, a former NASA astronaut who spent 136 days on the International Space Station, told Reuters she did not want events like Friday’s spacewalk to become gimmicks.
“We want them to happen because people have the skill sets and they’re available to do the job,” said Magnus.
“On the other hand, it’s important for young women to see women role models doing extraordinary things,” she said. “So there’s two sides of the coin. You want it to be normal but yet you want it to be special.”