NASA’s all-female spacewalk makes history

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NASA made history Friday morning when astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir stepped outside the International Space Station to replace a faulty battery charger.

The all-female spacewalk — the first of its kind “in human history,” the agency said — began at 7:38 a.m. Eastern time as the two American astronauts set their suits to battery power mode.

Koch was first to venture out of the ISS with a red tether attached to her suit.

Meir soon followed, carrying a tool bag as she made her way out of the hatch at 7:49 a.m.

The historic float outside the orbiting laboratory into the vacuum of space came several months after another all-female spacewalk was canceled because NASA did not have enough spacesuits in the right size. And it’s being heralded as a huge step forward for the agency at a time when NASA continues to work to highlight the contributions of women.

At a media briefing before the 5 ½-hour-spacewalk, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said 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 has dubbed “Artemis” after the twin sister of Apollo. Today’s spacewalk is another milestone toward making space more available to everyone, he said.

 

In the Space Operations Center at NASA’s headquarters, Bridenstine watched the beginning of the spacewalk Friday with space station managers and a few members of Congress and pointed out that 15 women have now performed spacewalks.

“And 14 of then have been American,” he said. “So we’re leading the way on this.” (read more)

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