Mar 23, 2019 | Updated: 12:48 PM EDT

NASA Sends First All-Female Team on a Spacewalk

Mar 11, 2019 05:33 PM EDT

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Woman Spacewalk
(Photo : NASA handout photo by Robert Markowitz) Image left: Astronaut Anne McClain and Image right: Astronaut Christine Koch
Mary Lawrence
(Photo : Nasa) Mary Lawrence among five new flight directors chosen by NASA

March 29, 2019 marks the first ever all-female spacewalk in history. Over the years, there have been teams of all-men or teams of both men and women assigned to carry spacewalks but none of the teams were made of women exclusively. This excursion will be the first one. The spacewalk is scheduled and planned by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as the second of three excursions for Expedition 59. 

It was 35 years ago, on July 25, 1984, when a spacewalk was conducted with one of the participants being a woman. It was Svetlana Savitskaya, a Soviet cosmonaut.

The NASA astronauts assigned to perform the said spacewalk are Anne McClain who is currently already on the International Space Station (ISS), and Cristina Koch who is on schedule to blast off to the ISS by the 14th of March. The two will travel together to about 240 miles or 400 kilometers above Earth.

The two female astronauts were both took the 2013 astronaut class in NASA where half of the class were females. McClain is a pilot and ranks major in the US Army. Koch is an electrical engineer from Jacksonville, North Carolina who had expeditions to the Arctic and the South Pole, making space her latest exciting frontier. 

Kristen Facciol of the Canadian Space Agency will be on console providing support from NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. Other members of the team are also female. Mary Lawrence will be that spacewalk's Lead Flight Director and Jackie Kagey will be the flight controller.

On March 22, McClain will be joining Nick Hague for the spacewalk scheduled on the date. Stephanie Schierholz, NASA spokesperson, stated that the schedule and assignments are not yet final as these could still be changed. Schierholz further reported that the spacewalks were originally scheduled to be carried out in the fall. The initial purpose is to replace the batteries installed during the summer.

The all-female spacewalk is said to be timely and significant especially for the month of March when the International Women's Day is celebrated all over the world. The astronauts are excited and hopeful about inspiring those that would be watching. 

Details and tasks for the March 29 spacewalk have not yet been finalized by NASA aside from the time duration which is about seven hours. The spacewalk will start at 6:30 a.m. ET. NASA will broadcast a television coverage of the event.

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