At the end of this month, for the first time in history, an all-female spacewalk at the International Space Station (ISS) has been scheduled. NASA has affirmed the news and stated that astronauts Christina Koch and Anne McClain would be walking outside the ISS on 29th March. The female cosmonauts would be on a mission to replace the batteries which have been installed last summer. On the ground, the astronauts would receive support from Canadian Space Agency flight controller Kristen Facciol and flight director Mary Lawrence. Kristen would be on the console at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.
Soviet astronaut Svetlana Savitskaya was the first woman to carry out a spacewalk on 25 July 1984. On 1st March, Facciol was the first to tweet the announcement, stating that she just can’t hold her excitement.
According to Nasa, there have been around 213 spacewalks at the ISS since 1998 for the motive of upkeep, repairs, testing of new equipment or science experiments. Less than 11% of over 500 people who have been to space have been female, and spacewalk teams have either been all-male or male-female. However, in the almost 60 years of space travel, there have only been four times when space mission included two female members trained for spacewalks.
McClain is on the ISS as a part of Expedition 58 and her Twitter posts with a stuffed toy Earth have gathered tens of thousands of retweets. Koch is due to take off on 14th March for her first space flight and reach the ISS. NASA estimated their walk would last about seven hours.
McClain and Koch were part of the 2013 NASA class, half of which were female. They came from the second largest number of applications NASA has ever received, which is over 6100. Even the most recent class of flight directors was also half female.