Two Women NASA Astronauts Made History With The First-Ever All-Female Space Walk

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NASA made history when astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir stepped outside the International Space Station to replace a faulty battery charger on October 18th, 2019.

Two Women NASA Astronauts Made History With The First-Ever All-Female Space Walk

NASA made history when astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir stepped outside the International Space Station to replace a faulty battery charger on October 18th, 2019.


The all-female spacewalk was the first of its kind "in human history," the agency said. It started at 7:38 am Eastern time as the two American astronauts set their suits to battery power mode.



Meir soon followed, carrying a tool bag while she was making her way out of the hatch at 7:49 am. The spacewalk was scheduled initially for five-and-a-half hours. Still, the crews completed their primary task, and the mission was extended to over seven hours so the astronauts could perform additional jobs.



The historical float outside the orbiting laboratory into the vacuum of space came some months after another all-female spacewalk was canceled because NASA didn't have enough spacesuits in the right size. And it is being heralded as a huge step forward for the agency at a time when NASA still works to highlight the contributions of women.



Riffing on the famous quote by first moonwalker Neil Armstrong in 1969, Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) shared on Twitter: "One giant leap for WOMANkind!"



At a media briefing before the spacewalk, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said that the agency would build on the astronauts' efforts and send the "next man and the first woman" to the moon by 2024, an effort the agency dubbed "Artemis" after the twin sister of Apollo. This spacewalk is another milestone toward making space more available to everybody.



In the Space Operations Center at NASA's headquarters, Bridenstine was watching the beginning of the spacewalk Friday with space station managers and some members of Congress and noted that fifteen women have now performed spacewalks.



Ken Bowersox, acting associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations at NASA, hopes two women completing spacewalks will become routine one day. He noted that the physical characteristics of women have made it more difficult in the past to do spacewalks because of the design of spacesuits. Spacesuits weigh 280 pounds on the ground, yet nothing in space, according to NASA.


Koch is scheduled to spend 328 days aboard the station, which is the longest ever by a woman. She said that she embraced the historical significance of the adventure she was about to embark on.


Both Koch and Meir were chosen as part of NASA's 2013 astronaut class, the first with an equal number of men and women. However, women are still an overwhelming minority among the rank and file at NASA and the industry more broadly. Women make up approximately a third of NASA's workforce, 28% of its senior executive leadership, and 16% of senior scientific employees, according to a survey done by the agency.


The historical event was broadcasted on NASA TV where everyone with Internet access could spectate the spacewalk live!



Spacewalks are among the most grueling work that astronauts undertake in space. They're physically taxing and mentally challenging, astronauts have said — like taking an exam while running a marathon.


Before becoming an astronaut, Koch, 40 years old, was an electrical engineer at NASA's Goddard Spaceflight Center. There, she worked on scientific instruments used in the study of cosmology and astrophysics. Later, she became a research associate in the U.S. Antarctic Program, that included a year-long stay at the South Pole.


Meir has a doctorate in marine biology. She has previously worked at Lockheed Martin, contributing to human physiology research and participating in research flights for NASA on reduced gravity aircraft and an underwater habitat. She has also studied the physiology of animals in extreme environments.


NASA hoped to have an all-female spacewalk in March 2019. However, it was canceled after astronaut Anne McClain discovered that the spacesuit she was to wear did not fit properly. Astronaut Nick Hague went in her place instead.


Two Women NASA Astronauts Made History With The First-Ever All-Female Space Walk

Two Women NASA Astronauts Made History With The First-Ever All-Female Space Walk

Two Women NASA Astronauts Made History With The First-Ever All-Female Space Walk

Two Women NASA Astronauts Made History With The First-Ever All-Female Space Walk

Two Women NASA Astronauts Made History With The First-Ever All-Female Space Walk

Two Women NASA Astronauts Made History With The First-Ever All-Female Space Walk

Two Women NASA Astronauts Made History With The First-Ever All-Female Space Walk

Image credits: NASA, Astro_Jessica, Intl. Space Station

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Thinking Humanity: Two Women NASA Astronauts Made History With The First-Ever All-Female Space Walk
Two Women NASA Astronauts Made History With The First-Ever All-Female Space Walk
NASA made history when astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir stepped outside the International Space Station to replace a faulty battery charger on October 18th, 2019.
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