NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir made history on Friday as the two women performed the first-ever all-female spacewalk, as Good Morning America reported. A similar all-female spacewalk had been scheduled to take place months ago but was derailed by equipment issues.
On Friday morning, Koch and Meir stepped out of the International Space Station to replace a failed power controller, a process that was expected to take about five hours and which was televised by NASA.
Women have completed spacewalks before, the first being Soviet cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya in 1984, and with the first American being Kathryn Dwyer Sullivan, also in 1984. An additional 11 women, including Koch and Meir, have conducted 40 spacewalks within the past 35 years. However, all of those spacewalking missions involving women had either been solo missions or missions accompanied by one or more male colleagues.
Meir brushed off the significance of the event, saying it’s just her job.
“It’s something we’ve been training for six years. For us, it’s just coming out here and doing our job today. We were the crew that was tasked with this assignment.”
However, she did acknowledge that the event has made history.
“We recognize that it is a historic achievement and we do of course want to give credit for all those who came before us.”
She also gave a tip of the hat to the female scientists, engineers, explorers, and astronauts who paved the way for Saturday’s historic spacewalk.
At 7:38am ET, our #AllWomanSpacewalk officially started as @Astro_Christina & @Astro_Jessica set their spacesuits to battery power, marking the beginning of their 5.5 hour excursion outside of the @Space_Station to replace a failed power controller. Watch: https://t.co/2SIb9YXlRh— NASA (@NASA) October 18, 2019
During their mission, the two women spoke with President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, marking the first time since the Apollo era that a sitting president has spoken to an astronaut who was outside of a spacecraft.
The first all-female spacewalk had actually been scheduled for March 2019. As The New York Times reported at the time, Koch was to be joined with fellow astronaut Anne C. McClain on a six-hour mission to install massive lithium-ion batteries that would help power the spacecraft. However, the spacesuits aboard the ISS weren’t the proper sizes for both women, and Koch later completed the spacewalk with her male colleague, Nick Hague.
In August, as reported at the time by The Inquisitr, a female astronaut made history for a considerably less magnanimous reason. McClain, one of the two women scheduled to perform the ill-fated all-female spacewalk in March, became the first person to be accused of committing a crime in space. She was accused of having illegally accessed her ex-partner’s bank account via a NASA computer.