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NASA’s first ever all-female spacewalk outside the International Space Station (ISS) will take place on March 29. NASA astronauts Anne McClain and Christina Koch will undertake the seven-hour extravehicular mission.
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Canadian Space Agency and NASA flight controller Kristen Facciol, will be providing support from the ground. The walk was planned to take place last year, but was delayed and will now take place during Women's History Month. A month-long celebration of contributions by women through historical and modern times.
The future is female
McCain has been onboard the ISS since December 2018 and Koch will arrive at the ISS on March 14 via the Roscosmos Soyuz spacecraft. She will be joined on the Russian craft with fellow NASA astronaut Nick Hague and cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin.
This is the first time a spacewalk outside the ISS has been completed by women only. It will be the first ISS spacewalk for McClain and the first spaceflight for Koch.
NASA becomes more gender balanced
McCain and Koch have a long history. The two astronauts were part of NASA’s astronaut class of 2013, the first in NASA’s history to have an equal number of men and women. The spacewalk will be made possible by a large group of talented women.
Jackie Kagey will serve as the lead EVA flight controller, while lead flight director Mary Lawrence and Kristen Facciol will provide support on the ground. Facciol shared the news of the historic walk on her personal Twitter saying: “I just found out that I’ll be on console providing support for the FIRST ALL-FEMALE SPACEWALK with @AstroAnnimal and @Astro_Christina and I can not contain my excitement!!!!”
I just found out that I’ll be on console providing support for the FIRST ALL FEMALE SPACEWALK with @AstroAnnimal and @Astro_Christina and I can not contain my excitement!!!! #WomenInSTEM#WomenInEngineering#WomenInSpace— Kristen Facciol (@kfacciol) March 1, 2019
Women overlooked for too long
The spacewalk is historic in that it is the first time an all-female all NASA crew will head outside of the vehicle together. It isn’t the first time female astronauts have been involved in an extravehicular mission.
Cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya became the for women to walk in space in 1984 when she worked outside the Salyut 7 space station. Soon after NASA astronaut Kathryn Dwyer Sullivan took the title as the first American women to undertake an extra-vehicular task during Space Shuttle Challenger mission.
Earth’s second day on @Space_Station started early, but he was happy to learn that even in space, the day starts off with coffee. Then it was emergency mask donning practice with @Astro_DavidS - if there’s an (unlikely) ammonia leak, we have just seconds to protect ourselves. pic.twitter.com/Mmtc6ii3B8— Anne McClain (@AstroAnnimal) March 5, 2019
In the entire history of space exploration, less than 11% of the more than 500 people who have been to space have been female. Spacewalks prior to this month's historical walk, other missions have always been either all-male or male-female.
In the last six decades of spaceflight, there have only been four times when missions included two female members trained for spacewalks.
Fits like a glove. Today the Soyuz spacecraft was mounted inside the Soyuz rocket upper fairing! Last glimpse of the vehicle we ride in until it’s docked to the @Space_Station. In this case, both the spacecraft and the rocket are named Soyuz (Союз), which means “Union” in English pic.twitter.com/gWzDKdaL7P— Christina H Koch (@Astro_Christina) March 7, 2019