We’re in the midst of Women’s History Month, with International Women’s Day only a day away, which makes me even more appreciative of this good news I’m about to drop on you. The first all-female spacewalk is taking place later this month. In fact, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) confirmed that astronauts Christina Koch and Anne McClain will both walk outside the International Space Station on March 29 and we’re beyond ecstatic!
If you’re asking yourself: Wait, didn’t we have a woman carry out a spacewalk before? You’re right! This isn’t the first time in history we’re having a woman carry out a spacewalk, it’s the first time in history we’re having an all-female spacewalk — as in more than one woman! On July 25, 1984, Soviet cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya became the first woman to carry out a spacewalk.
According to NASA, since Savitskaya, women have been on spacewalk teams but the teams have always been either all males or mixed genders. Less than 11% of the astronauts who have been to space have been female. This will be the first time a spacewalk team is a #girlsquad. It’s also the second in a series of three planned spacewalks, according to NASA, this one will last about seven hours.
There are a number of different reasons why spacewalks are carried out. This particular mission is to replace batteries that were installed last summer. But NASA confirms that spacewalks can consist of anything from conducting scientific experiments, to testing out new equipment or fixing satellites or spacecraft that are already in space.
McClain and Kosh will both be supported on the ground by Canadian Space Agency flight controller Kristen Facciol on March 29. She will be on the console at NASA’S Johnson Space Center in Houston and announced the spacewalk on March 1 via Twitter.
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
McClain, who was part of the 50% female 2013 NASA class with Koch, shared a photo on Twitter with a stuffed toy Earth that has since received a ton of response.
Earth’s 3rd day started with getting the blood (plasma?) pumping! First the treadmill, then weights – he even got some deadlifts in with me. It is important to exercise every day, not just for our muscles but also to protect our bones from losing density in microgravity. pic.twitter.com/gIsiKt4K8S
— Anne McClain (@AstroAnnimal) March 6, 2019
“Earth’s 3rd day started with getting the blood (plasma?) pumping! First, the treadmill, then weights — he even got some deadlifts in with me. It is important to exercise every day, not just for our muscles but also to protect our bones from losing density in microgravity,” she tweeted.
Not only were folks excited about the first-female spacewalk, but a lot of them had questions specifically regarding an astronaut’s health and fitness routine. Apparently, an astronaut’s number one priority is making sure to exercise daily. It’s crucial for them to be in their best shape.
First fit check of our actual spacecraft – the Soyuz rocket! This will be the last time we test the systems while wearing our launch and landing space suits. Great to see the real deal with the crew! pic.twitter.com/H7SdhgFuSn
— Christina H Koch (@Astro_Christina) March 6, 2019
We can’t help but be inspired by this historical mission. For all the little girls out there with big dreams of being astronauts or scientists — this one for you!