NASA was expected to orchestrate the world’s first all-female spacewalk at the International Space Station earlier this year, but was unfortunately unable to move forward with those plans because of inadequate space suit fitment for both of the female astronauts – Anne McClain and Christina Koch – who resided at the Earth-orbiting space lab at the time.
Image Credit: NASA via AP
The cancellation of the planned all-female spacewalk marked an embarrassing moment for the American space agency, but it was also the right decision given the circumstances. After all, if NASA had given the green light for one of the female astronauts to wear an improperly fitted space suit, then it would be endangering the safety of an astronaut in a high-risk situation.
Bummed as the world may have been about the circumstances at the time, NASA appears ready to set things right. In fact, NASA announced just this week that the first woman-only spacewalk could now transpire as soon as October 21st – nearly six months after the space agency’s original expectation.
Anne McClain was flown back to Earth in June, which means she won’t be able to participate in the upcoming all-female spacewalk, but Christina Koch will – she’ll be accompanied by Jessica Meir, a new arrival to the International Space Station, as she makes history in microgravity.
Together, Koch and Meir will conduct battery maintenance on the outside of the International Space Station. Astronauts have spent a lot of time updating the station’s battery caches over the past several months, replacing worn out batteries with higher-capacity and longer-life alternatives for the onboard solar power system.
On Sunday, Koch and her colleague Andrew Morgan will kick things off with a battery-centric spacewalk of their own, but during the October 21st first all-female spacewalk, Koch and Meir will continue those efforts, bringing it one step closer to completion.
Like with many of NASA’s spacewalk missions, we expect that the space agency will offer some sort of live feed or at least live updates as the October 21st spacewalk transpires, especially given its historic significance.