Home sci-tech NASA sets 1st all-female spacewalk after spring suit flap


NASA sets 1st all-female spacewalk after spring suit flap

by Ace Damon

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Marcia Dunn, Associated Press

Published Friday, October 4, 2019 3:37 pm

Last updated Friday, October 4, 2019 5:42 PM

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida – Women's first spacewalk resumes six months after a suit-sized flap led to an embarrassing cancellation.

NASA announced Friday that the two women from the International Space Station will take a spacewalk later this month. Astronaut Christina Koch and newcomer Jessica Meir will venture out on October 21 to connect new and updated batteries to the solar power system.

It will be the fourth of five spacewalks for drums work. The first is Sunday; Koch is going out with Andrew Morgan.

Koch was supposed to take a spacewalk with another teammate in March. But NASA had to abandon the plan just a few days in advance because there was not enough time to prepare a second midsize space suit. The second half was set up in June.

NASA's deputy chief astronaut Megan McArthur told reporters that the women's spacewalk will be a milestone. But she noted that women are so integrated at all levels of NASA now that they tend not to insist on gender.

"I'm sure they will sit down and think about it, as we will all do. We will all celebrate it," McArthur said.

Koch and Meir, a marine biologist who arrived at the orbital lab this week, are members of NASA's 2013 Astronaut Class, the first and only with a uniform division between men and women. The two are also making their first space flights.

Koch, an electrical engineer, is more than 200 days on an approximately 300-day mission that will set a record for a woman's longest space flight.

"In the past, women weren't always at the table," Koch said during a television interview earlier this week. "And it's wonderful to be contributing to the human spaceflight program at a time when all contributions are being accepted, when everyone has a role, and this can in turn lead to greater chances of success."

Since the world's first spacewalk in 1965, only 14 women have done so, compared with 213 men, according to NASA.

Expect more women walking together on the horizon.

"It turns out that in the next two years, we will have many people in medium suits flying," said Kirk Shireman, program manager for NASA's space station.

Koch will serve as the lead astronaut for Sunday's excursion with Morgan, his crewmate in the US. There are 11 spacewalks in the coming months – 10 from the US and one from Russia. Only one is two women.

—— The Associated Press Department of Health and Science receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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