UPDATE 10/18/19: This morning at 7:50 a.m. ET, astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir set off on their history-making all-woman spacewalk. In a mission being live-streamed by NASA, the pair ventured outside the International Space Station for a maintenance update, replacing a failed power controller.
Tune into NASA’s live-stream of the historic spacewalk below:
LIVE NOW: Tune in to watch the first #AllWomanSpacewalk in human history! ???
— NASA (@NASA) October 18, 2019
Previously: NASA’s upcoming Artemis missions to the Moon are set to be hugely inspiring, in part, because they will see the first woman in history set foot on the lunar surface. And while that iconic moment is years away from happening, another significant chapter in the story of women in space is likely to take place in the next 48 hours with the first-ever all-female spacewalk outside of the International Space Station (ISS).
LIVE: Experts discuss the 1st all-female spacewalk scheduled to take place on either Thurs., Oct. 17 or Fri., Oct 18. @Astro_Christina and @Astro_Jessica will venture outside the @Space_Station for a ~6.5 hour spacewalk for station maintenance.
— NASA (@NASA) October 15, 2019
It seems that the all-female spacewalk, while notable, isn’t an event that NASA was trying to consciously facilitate. Instead, the all-female spacewalk seems to be the result of happenstance, thanks to the makeup of the crew members aboard the ISS, as well as the need to upgrade the space station’s batteries to new, lithium-ion ones. The moment is being highlighted as historic by NASA nonetheless, with plenty of posts alerting space nerds to the coming event.
The spacewalk, which is planned for either 7:50 a.m. EDT on Thursday or Friday of this week, will be made up of astronauts Christina Koch (pronounced like “cook”) and Jessica Meir. Both Koch and Meir are current residents aboard the ISS, with the former set to achieve a new record for longest-ever single continuous stay in space for a woman when she returns to Earth in February 2020.
“[I]n the end, I do think it’s important, and I think it’s important because of the historical nature of what we’re doing, and that in the past women haven’t always been at the table. And it’s wonderful to be contributing to the human spaceflight program at a time when all contributions are being accepted, when everyone has a role, and that, in turn, can lead to an increased chance of success. There are [also] a lot of people that derive motivation from inspiring stories from people that look like them, and I think it’s an important aspect of the story to tell.”
Meir also made sure to give credit to all of the female space pioneers that came before them, as well as make one other point in terms of how she feels about her achievements being considered in the context of her gender. “I think the nice thing for us is that we don’t even really think about it on a daily basis,” Meir told the reporter, adding that “it’s just normal, we’re part of the team, we’re doing this work as an efficient team working together with everybody else, so it’s really nice to see how far we’ve come.”
What do you think about this first-ever all-female spacewalk? Do you plan on watching it live? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!