Thursday, 21 March, 2019

The First All-Female Spacewalk Has Just Been Scheduled by NASA

Astronaut Anne McClain left and Astronaut Christine Koch right. NASA handout Astronaut Anne McClain left and Astronaut Christine Koch right. NASA handout
Frank Williams | 08 March, 2019, 17:10

As the only two women who are part of the Expedition 59 crew, Anne McClain and Christina Koch will perform an all-female spacewalk.

Just in time for Women's History Month, NASA is holding the first all-female spacewalk.

The NASA website shows the spacewalk will last about seven hours.

There have been 213 space walks at the ISS since 1998 for the purposes of maintenance, repairs, testing of new equipment or science experiments, according to the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

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 ..."

It's a routine outing, and the first of three planned for this particular series, but this one is special for reasons beyond the mission itself - it's the first ever all-female spacewalk.

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"The Lead Flight Director is Mary Lawrence, and Jackie Kagey (also a woman), is the lead EVA (spacewalk) flight controller", Schierholz said. She mentioned in her post that she would be part of the console and provide the necessary support for the First All Female Spacewalk Team.

Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman to fly into space in 1963. Anne also will join Nick Hague for the March 22 spacewalk.

NASA Flight Controller Kristen Facciol sparked worldwide excitement at the beginning of this month when she tweeted her elation at being assigned to assist the spacewalk from the ground.

During spacewalks, astronauts spend an extended period of time on the exterior of the International Space Station.

USA astronaut Christina Hammock Koch, a member of the International Space Station expedition, attends her final exam at the Gagarin Cosmonauts' Training Center in Star City outside Moscow, Russia, Feb. 20, 2019.

Both Koch and McClain were selected as members of NASA's 21st astronaut class in 2013, and finished training in 2015.

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