NASA's Historic First All-Female Spacewalk Goes Off without a Hitch

What was once only a dream has become one giant step for all womankind.

Oct 22, 2019

NASA made history on October 18, 2019 with the first all-female spacewalk. The two astronauts, Christina Koch and Jessica Meir, who are currently on the International Space Station, are part of the expedition 61 mission.

The walk was very poignant for the two astronauts who aren't just colleagues; they are best friends who just took one giant step for all womankind.

This was not the first spacewalk for Koch, in fact it is her fourth.

For Meir, it was a fulfillment of one of her plans for the future that she listed in her high school yearbook, she said during a news conference from the space station following the walk.

"It really was an incredible experience and a mixture of emotions going out the door the first time," Meir said. "I'll never forget looking down and seeing my boots and the Earth below."

NASA’s  original all female walk that was supposed to be done with Koch and Anne McClain was scrapped because  there was only one medium sized space suite available. The second suite wasn't ready to be used. Since then, a new medium sized space suit has been sent to the International Space Station.

The spacewalk was one of ten scheduled for the rest of 2019 set because the aging nickel-hydrogen batteries on the station are being swapped with newer and more powerful lithium batteries. But the spacewalk was moved a few days up because flight controllers discovered a critical battery controller had failed and needed to be quickly replaced. Koch and Meir removed and replaced the faulty unit.

The walk was not planned just to be a historic event Megan McArthur, NASA’s deputy chief astronaut, said during an earlier press conference. We have to look at the arrival time of the crew members. We want to give folks that have just arrived time to get their space legs, if you will. We want to give folks that are about to depart time to prepare to depart. And so, we sort of protect those people around those time periods.”

Spacewalks are held for a variety of reasons according to NASA including doing experiments, testing new equipment and when necessary fixing satellites or spacecraft that are already in space. There have already been over 200 spacewalks at the International Space Station.

Both Koch and Meir were part of the 2013 astronaut class which was made up of 50 percent women and the most recent flight directors' class was also comprised of 50 percent women. This is a far cry from NASA's history of women in space.

Women took part in the astronaut selection in the early 1960s but were never became astronauts because they could not meet the requirement that all astronauts had to be test pilots; something that was closed to women at that time.

NASA finally allowed women to become astronauts in 1978 and the first woman in space was Sally Ride who was launched into orbit on June 18, 1983 in the space shuttle challenger. The Russians had won that race with Soviet cosmonaut. Valentina Tereshkova  in 1963. The first woman to spacewalk was cosmonaut Svetlina Savitskaya  in 1984. Many other women would follow in their footsteps.

NASA astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson said from NASA's Mission Control Center in Houston, "I think the milestone is hopefully this will now be considered normal ... not to overshadow women [who] have been doing spacewalks for 35 years. I think many of us are looking forward to this just being normal.

This all female spacewalk is a historic first for women  who have proved that women and girls can do anything they set their mind to do. We really have come along way.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE:
7 Historic Firsts for Women in Space You Might not Know About
Rosa Parks And Sally Ride Are Getting Their Very Own Barbie Dolls
NASA Goes Green with New Rocket Fuel

 

BONNIE RIVA RAS, EDITOR & WRITER
Bonnie Riva Ras has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.