NASA astronauts Christina H. Koch and Jessica Meir made history today, taking part in the first-ever spacewalk in the agency’s history featuring only women. The two astronauts ventured outside of the International Space Station in order to effect a repair on a failed power controller for the station, during a spacewalk that began at around 7:50 AM ET Friday morning and ended at around 2:55 PM ET Friday afternoon.
This historic event happened seven months after its original intended target date, after that attempt had to be scrubbed because the ISS was missing a medium-sized spacesuit that one of the two woman would need. Astronaut Anne McClain was going to take part alongside Koch at that time, but McClain’s time on the station ended in June. McClain attempted to make a large-sized suit work, but her mobility was too limited.
NASA sent up a second medium spacesuit in October to ensure that they wouldn’t encounter a similar problem a second time around, but rightly faced criticism for the apparent discrimination of having enough suits to ensure multiple men could spacewalk, but not multiple women. The agency seems to have a genuine interest in curbing any perception of discrimination inherent in its spacesuit program, however, and emphasized that the spacesuits designed for its Artemis Moon mission program are designed to provide maximum mobility for astronauts of all shapes and sizes.
This mission is a tremendous achievement not just for NASA and the astronauts that took part, but for all human space exploration, marking the first time there’s ever been a two-woman spacewalk. Definitely an exciting and momentous event, and once NASA makes the replay available, we’ll provide it above.