NASA gives the go-ahead for first ever all-female spacewalk
NASA has been making a lot of history lately, first was welcoming Hazza Al Mansouri, the first Emirati astronaut, onto the International Space Station (ISS). Now, they've given the go-ahead for the first all-female spacewalk.
If you thought being 408 kilometres (km) away from the surface of Earth was scary and dangerous already, try doing it outside the relative safety of the ISS. That’s what a spacewalk is, venturing out into the openness of space with nothing but your suit, this is full on Interstellar mode.
Spacewalks, also known as extravehicular activities (EVAs), must be done every so often so the crew on the ISS can perform vital repairs and checks to the station. It allows NASA and over space agencies to have space equipment repaired without the costly process of sending down to Earth for a fix.
NASA at the moment is gearing up for a marathon of 10 such spacewalks, one of which will be the first ever all-female walk. NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir will carry out the fourth spacewalk in the marathon.
(left to right) - Christina Koch, Jessica Meir, and Hazza Al Mansouri
The first five of the 10 walks all have the same mission – to swap out the old batteries on the station’s solar panels. Taking place on October 24, the two female astronauts will help with this mission in a walk that will last over six and a half hours.
An all-female spacewalk was slated in March for this year but fell flat as the station did not have the right sized equipment for the pair. Anne McClain was to walk with Koch but denied the opportunity as the station only had large size equipment for her rather than size-medium.
Fast forward to now and NASA has had ample time to construct another size-medium suit for Meir. NASA's ISS Program Manager Kirk Shireman said that the agency plans to launch "a lot of medium-suit people" to the space station over the next couple of years, so that HUT will be put to good use.
Once the first five walks have been carried out and the batteries replaced, a further five walks will take place to help repair the station’s ‘Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer’, a dark matter experiment.
On October 6, there is a spacewalk broadcast at 14:30 GST. It is the first mission in replacing the batteries and will be carried out by NASA’S Andrew Morgan and Jessica Meir.
Watch it live below: