NEWS
18/10/2019 5:51 PM IST

Nasa All-Female Spacewalk Sees Astronauts Christina Koch And Jessica Meir Make History

A previous planned all-female space walk was called off when it became apparent that two smaller suits to fit the female astronauts could not be made in time.

Two astronauts are making history as they become the first ever all-female team to conduct a space walk. 

Christina Koch and Jessica Meir, both Nasa astronauts, are carrying out a spacewalk outside the International Space Station (ISS) in order to replace a faulty battery weighing 105.2kg.

In the process they will become the first female-only team to spacewalk, 54 years since Russian cosmonaut Alexei Leonov first stepped into space. 

Nasa are live-streaming the historic event – which has taken on an even greater significance in the wake of a widely-reported spacesuit sizing issue earlier this year. 

Koch and fellow astronaut Anne McClain were primed to undertake the first ever all-female EVA (extravehicular activity) in March, but it was called off when it became apparent there wasn’t enough time to get a second medium-sized spacesuit ready to fit the two women. 

NASA
Nasa astronauts Jessica Meir (left) and Christina Koch prepare on the International Space Station for the first all-female spacewalk.

All of Nasa’s astronauts aboard the station are equipped to carry out the task of replacing the enormous battery, CBS reported, however Koch and Meir were selected to set foot outside the station together. 

While Koch has undertaken three previous spacewalks, it will be Meir’s first ever excursion outside the station, and the 221st in the history of the International Space Station. 

Electrical engineer Koch has been living aboard the station since March, iNews reported, whilst Meir, a marine biologist, joined the crew in September. Both are members of NASA’s Astronaut Class of 2013. 

Koch is set to break another record during her time aboard the station – with an expected stay of 328 days she will set the precedent for the longest single spaceflight by a woman. 

Viewers watching the livestream will be able to differentiate Koch and Meir by the differences in their space suits – Koch’s will have red stripes, whilst Meir’s is unmarked.  

The mission is expected to last five-and-a half hours, and if time allows, the astronauts will not only replace the battery but will also adjust insulation around parts of the station, route an ethernet cable, and install a new fitting onto the European Space Agency’s Columbus laboratory module. 

The astronauts themselves may be treating Friday’s mission as little more a maintenance trip, but the world will be watching as they step out into space. 

The pair have been wished well by a number of leading scientists and astronauts past and present, including the UK’s Tim Peake who spent six months at the station after launching in December 2015.