The first all-female spacewalk is back on, six months after a suit-sizing flap led to an embarrassing cancellation.
Nasa announced on Friday that the International Space Station’s two women will pair up for a spacewalk later this month. Astronauts Christina Koch and the newly arrived Jessica Meir will venture out on Oct 21 to plug in new, upgraded batteries for the solar power system.
It will be the fourth of five spacewalks for battery work. The first is Sunday; Koch will go out with Andrew Morgan.
Koch was supposed to do a spacewalk with another female crewmate in March. But Nasa had to scrap the plan just a few days in advance because there wasn’t enough time to get a second medium-size spacesuit ready. The second medium was put together on board in June.
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Nasa’s deputy chief astronaut Megan McArthur told reporters the all-female spacewalk will be a milestone. But she noted that women are so integrated at all levels at Nasa now that they don’t tend to dwell on gender. “I’m sure that they’ll sit back and reflect on it, as we all will. We will all celebrate that,” McArthur said.
Koch and Meir, a marine biologist who arrived at the orbiting lab last week, are both members of Nasa’s Astronaut Class of 2013, the first and only one with an even split between men and women.
Published in Dawn, October 6th, 2019