Women have been makings strides all over the world in almost every field of late, and according to ABC 57 News, you can add “as astronauts” to that list.
The publication announced that, for the first time in history, a spacewalk on the international space station is scheduled to take place — with an all-female crew. Expedition 59, which is planned for March 29, will be carried out by Anne McClain and Christina Koch for NASA.
To make the accomplishment even more incredible, Canadian Space Agency flight controller Kristen Facciol will be providing the ground support for the pair from the Johnson Space Center in Houston. Unable to contain her excitement at the rather momentous occasion, Facciol took to Twitter to break the news on March 1.
“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.”
NASA spokeswoman Stephanie Schierholz explained that McClain and Koch’s spacewalk is currently scheduled as the second of three.
“Anne also will join Nick Hague for the March 22 spacewalk. And, of course, assignments and schedules could always change,” she warned, before adding some more great news. “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.”
— CNN (@CNN) March 7, 2019
Both McClain and Koch are of the 2013 class of astronauts, a class which boasted a female compliment of approximately 50 percent. McClain is currently working aboard the International Space Station, and Koch is expected to join her, blasting off on March 14.
The spacewalk is defined as any time an astronaut leaves the space station or other vehicle in space, usually with the purpose to do maintenance work on the spacecraft, to test new equipment on the space station, or to perform an experiment. What McClain and Koch are scheduled to do during their spacewalk has not been made public.
Incredibly, it’s been 35 years since the first woman participated in a spacewalk. Soviet cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya made history on July 25, 1984, when she stepped out for the first ever spacewalk carried out by a woman. Despite this latest milestone, NASA has stated they had not planned on making history by sending out the first all-female team for a spacewalk.
“It was not orchestrated to be this way; these spacewalks were originally scheduled to take place in the fall,” Schierholz explained.
Either way, it’s a massive step for womankind. Only around 11 percent of the people who have traveled to space so far have been female.
Their spacewalk is estimated to last around seven hours.