NASA astronauts Anne McClain and Christina Koch are set to conduct the first all-female spacewalk later this month.
On the ground, they’ll be supported by Canadian Space Agency flight controller Kristen Facciol, who will be on the console at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.
The walk will take place on March 29, 35 years after a woman first took part in one.
It was Facciol herself who first tweeted the announcement:
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
— Kristen Facciol (@kfacciol) March 1, 2019
According to NASA, the all-female spacewalk wasn’t specifically planned, it’s just turned out to be this way.
NASA spokeswoman Stephanie Schierholz told CNN:
As currently scheduled, the March 29 spacewalk will be the first with only women.
It is the second in a series of three planned spacewalks. Anne also will join Nick Hague for the March 22 spacewalk. And, of course, assignments and schedules could always change.
The spacewalk might be a normal event that all NASA astronauts are trained for, but this will certainly be a historic moment for women in science and space.
Anne McClain is already on the International Space Station as part of Expedition 58. She blasted up into space on December 20, 2018 with astronauts Oleg Kononenko and David Saint-Jacques. Christina Koch is setting off on her flight to space on March 14th, on the 59th Expedition to the ISS with Aleksey Ovchinin and Nick Hague.
Soviet cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya became the first woman to carry out a spacewalk on July 25, 1984. She participated in welding experiments on the outer hull of the space station
The spacewalks are intended to performing engineering works on the exterior of the space station. They can also be used to conduct science experiments and also to test new equipment. Work will be carried out on the spacewalk to replace batteries that were installed last summer. NASA says that the work will last for approximately seven hours.
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