NASA Will Host the First All-Female Spacewalk in History This Month

Cristina Cross
March 8, 2019

Women will also be performing crucial work on the ground; Mary Lawrence and Kristen Facciol are due to serve as lead flight director and lead spacewalk flight controller, respectively, supporting McClain and Koch from NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.

NASA astronauts Anne McClain and Christina Koch are scheduled to suit up and head outside the International Space Station.

She said besides the two female spacewalkers, and the female flight controller, two other women will complete the crew.

McClain launched to the International Space Station in December for Expedition 58 and will continue on Expedition 59's crew.

There have been 213 space walks at the ISS since 1998 for the purposes of maintenance, repairs, testing of new equipment or science experiments, according to the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

It's a routine outing, and the first of three planned for this particular series, but this one is special for reasons beyond the mission itself - it's the first ever all-female spacewalk.

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Koch and McClain's seven-hour spacewalk will be broadcast on NASA TV later this month.

Koch is a member of Expedition 59, while McClain is now part of the three-person crew of the International Space Station.

It's a fitting milestone for Women's History Month, though NASA spokeswoman Stephanie Schierholz tells CNN's Gianluca Mezzofiore that it "was not orchestrated to be this way" and "assignments and schedules could always change".

A spacewalk, also known as "extravehicular activity" (EVA), is a broad term that applies to any time an astronaut exits a vehicle while in space.

NASA selected its first female astronauts in 1978, and women now account for about 34% of its astronauts. This is going to be the first time in space for McClain and the first spaceflight for Koch.

The walk is the first of its kind ever since a Soviet woman Svetlana Savitskaya walked on July 25, 1984 in space. She mentioned in her post that she would be part of the console and provide the necessary support for the First All Female Spacewalk Team.

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