It has been months since NASA announced it, but this Friday, finally, two women perform the first exclusively female spacewalk (You can see it live on these lines). The protagonists are astronauts and flight engineers Jessica Meir and Christina Koch, who have gone outside the International Space Station (ISS) at 13.50 Spanish peninsular time to replace a faulty energy controller. Last March, the whole trip had to be canceled for security reasons: the suit available for one of the astronauts, then Anne McClain, was too big.
NASA recognizes that the female spacewalk is generating an unusual interest. Many have found in this activity an inspiring deed and a new demonstration of the advancement of women. Although the Russian Svetlana Savitskaya had already carried out welding experiments outside the Salyut 7 station 35 years ago and others have followed her since then, there has never been an exit to space without a male company.
It is not something planned
However, NASA recognizes that the spacewalk for women is not something planned on purpose. It just happens because of the growing number of female astronauts. In Koch and Meir's 2013 astronaut class 50% were women. And as they indicate from the agency, astronauts who leave the space must be the most prepared to perform certain tasks, it is not a matter of gender. «Spacewalks are not easy; astronauts generally describe them as the most challenging thing they do physically, ”they say.
The spacewalk scheduled for March 29 was suspended due to a problem with the suit. Astronaut Nick Haya had to replace Anne McClain because the torso of the suit did not fit properly, it was too large and she had not trained with that size. The change could put your security at risk. NASA has announced that it has made modifications so that this does not happen again.
Six hours of work
Koch and Meir activated the batteries of their suits at 13.50 hours and left the airlock or Quest chamber to perform work of almost six hours in a structure located in Port 6 of the station. Its goal is to replace a failed power controller, also known as a battery charge and discharge unit (BCDU). The controller was not activated after new lithium-ion batteries were installed in the outdoor structure on October 11. The unit is one of those that regulate the charge placed on batteries by collecting energy from the solar panels of the station. Although the failure of the unit has not affected the operations of the station or the safety of the crew, it does prevent the new batteries from providing greater station power.
LIVE NOW: Tune in to watch the first #AllWomanSpacewalk in human history! 👩🏻🚀
– NASA (@NASA) October 18, 2019
During live coverage, to find out who is who, Koch wears the space suit with the red stripes, and the views from his helmet camera are number 18, while Meir's space suit has no stripes, and his sight The hull chamber is number 11. The spacewalk will be 221 in support of assembly, maintenance and updates of the station, and the eighth of the year. This will be Koch's fourth spacewalk and Meir's first. Meir will be the fifteenth woman in history that goes into outer space. Both Koch and Meir, selected as candidates for astronauts in 2013, are on their first space flight.
Commander Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA flight engineer Andrew Morgan will help astronauts from within the ISS. Parmitano will control the robot arm Canadarm2 and Morgan will provide support for airlock and space suits.
A milestone to celebrate
"The first spacewalk for women is a milestone worth pointing out and celebrating, as the agency hopes to put the first woman and the next man on the Moon in 2024 with the Artemisa lunar exploration program," they say from NASA . "Our achievements can inspire students around the world, demonstrating that hard work can get you very far," they stress.
Asked about the importance of this spacewalk before doing it, Koch highlighted “the historical nature of what we are doing. In the past, women have not always been participants. It is wonderful to be contributing to the space program at a time when all contributions are accepted, when we all have a role. That in turn can lead to a greater probability of success.
You can follow all the updates of the tour in this ISS blog.
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