NASA Announces the First All-Female Spacewalk During Women’s History Month
Sisters are spacewalking for themselves.
On March 29th, a crew of astronauts will conduct the first-ever all-female spacewalk aboard the International Space Station. NASA astronauts Anne McClain and Christina Koch will be doing the spacewalk, with ground support from Canadian Space Agency flight controller Kristen Facciol, at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX.
Despite scheduling the walk at the tail end of Women’s History Month, NASA spokeswoman Stephanie Schierholz said that the timing and crew make-up was completely coincidental, saying, “It was not orchestrated to be this way; these spacewalks were originally scheduled to take place in the fall … In addition to the two female spacewalkers, the Lead Flight Director is Mary Lawrence, and Jackie Kagey (also a woman), is the lead EVA (spacewalk) flight controller.”
McClain and Koch are both members of NASA’s 2013 astronaut candidate class, which was 50% women. McClain, a graduate of West Point, is an OH-58 helicopter pilot and graduate of U.S. Naval Test Pilot School at Naval Air Station, Patuxent River. Koch previously served as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Station Chief in American Samoa.
Facciol shared her excitement on Twitter:
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
McClain, who has been stationed on the ISS as part of Expedition 58 since December 2018, is also active on Twitter, where she is sharing her day-to-day tasks alongside a stuffed toy Little Earth:
Earth’s 3rd day started with getting the blood (plasma?) pumping! First the treadmill, then weights – he even got some deadlifts in with me. It is important to exercise every day, not just for our muscles but also to protect our bones from losing density in microgravity. pic.twitter.com/gIsiKt4K8S
— Anne McClain (@AstroAnnimal) March 6, 2019
Koch is set to launch on March 14, as part of Expedition 59 and 60 that will launch from Russia.
First fit check of our actual spacecraft – the Soyuz rocket! This will be the last time we test the systems while wearing our launch and landing space suits. Great to see the real deal with the crew! pic.twitter.com/H7SdhgFuSn
— Christina H Koch (@Astro_Christina) March 6, 2019
The spacewalk is set to run for about seven hours, during which the astronauts typically test new equipment and make repairs to the spacecraft. The first woman to ever complete a spacewalk was Russian cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya on July 25, 1984 aboard the Soyuz T-12. The first American woman to spacewalk was Kathryn D. Sullivan on the Space Shuttle Challenger mission STS-41-G on October 11, 1984.
Godspeed to these awesome women, we can’t wait to see what they accomplish in space!
(via CNN, image: NASA via Getty Images)
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