By Susan Hoffman
Contributor, In Space News
A significant milestone occurred in space history today: the first all-female spacewalk. NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir went outside the International Space Station (ISS) to replace a damaged battery charge/discharge unit. It is one of several battery units that regulate electrical power collected by ISS solar arrays. The unit failed after new lithium-ion batteries were installed on October 11.
Start a Space Studies degree at American Military University.
Koch and Meir were supported by NASA’s Stephanie Wilson, the spacewalk’s coordinator at Mission Control Center in Houston. Commander Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency and NASA Flight Engineer Andrew Morgan provided additional assistance from the ISS during the spacewalk.
NASA Live-Streamed the Event to Viewers Worldwide
NASA live-streamed the event to thousands of viewers worldwide. NASA’s digital services team also answered questions from students watching the spacewalk in their classrooms.
To help viewers distinguish the two astronauts, Koch wore a spacesuit with horizontal red stripes on the legs. Meir had a spacesuit without stripes. Koch’s helmet camera view had the number 18, and Meir’s helmet camera view was numbered 11.
Previous All-Female Spacewalk Cancelled Due to a Spacesuit Error
A previous all-female spacewalk with Christina Koch and Anne McClain was originally scheduled for March 29. However, due to the lack of a medium-size spacesuit for McClain, the mission was postponed.
According to Hanneke Weitering of Space, “McClain took her first spacewalk on March 22 in a spacesuit with a size-medium hard upper torso (HUT), and she planned to wear a size-large HUT during her second spacewalk together with NASA astronaut Christina Koch. She had trained wearing spacesuits in both sizes, so she thought she could wear either size.
“However, just a few days before that second spacewalk, McClain informed NASA that she did not feel comfortable wearing the larger size after all. The crew had prepared only one medium suit and one large suit for the series of spacewalks happening this spring, but both women needed to wear the medium. So, NASA astronaut Nick Hague took McClain’s place and wore the larger suit during Friday’s spacewalk.”
More Women to Be Involved in Future Missions
By 2024, NASA plans to put the first woman and next man on the moon through NASA’s Artemis lunar exploration program, named after the Greek goddess of the moon. To accomplish this goal, NASA is working with nine companies, which are bidding on delivering science and technology payloads under the terms of Space Policy Directive-1.