1st all-female spacewalking team makes history

  • In this photo provided by NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir exits the International Space Station on Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. The world’s first female spacewalking team is making history high above Earth. This is the first time in a half-century of spacewalking that a woman floated out without a male crewmate. Their job is to fix a broken part of the station’s solar power network.(NASA via AP)

  • U.S. astronauts Jessica Meir, left, and Christina Koch in the International Space Station on Thursday. NASA VIA AP

  • This photo provided by NASA shows astronauts Andrew Morgan with Christina Koch and Jessica Meir at the International Space Station on Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. The world's first female spacewalking team made history high above Earth on Friday, floating out of the International Space Station to fix a broken part of the power network. As Koch and Meir emerged one by one, it marked the first time in a half-century of spacewalking that a woman floated out without a male crewmate. (NASA via AP)

Associated Press
Published: 10/18/2019 10:16:15 PM
Modified: 10/18/2019 10:16:00 PM

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The world’s first all-female spacewalking team made history high above Earth on Friday, replacing a broken part of the International Space Station’s power grid.

As NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir completed the job with wrenches, screwdrivers and power-grip tools, it marked the first time in a half-century of spacewalking that men weren’t part of the action. They insisted they were just doing their job after years of training.

America’s first female spacewalker from 35 years ago, Kathy Sullivan, was delighted. She said it’s good to finally have enough women in the astronaut corps and trained for spacewalking for this to happen.

“We’ve got qualified women running the control, running space centers, commanding the station, commanding spaceships and doing spacewalks,” Sullivan said. “And golly, gee whiz, every now and then there’s more than one woman in the same place.”

President Donald Trump called from the White House to mark “this historic event ... truly historic.”

“What you do is incredible. You’re very brave people,” Trump told them as they wrapped up their spacewalk.

Replied Meir: “We don’t want to take too much credit because there have been many others — female spacewalkers — before us. This is just the first time that there have been two women outside at the same time ... For us, this is really just us doing our job.”

NASA leaders, Girl Scouts and others also cheered Koch and Meir on. Parents also sent in messages of thanks and encouragement via social media. NASA included some in its TV coverage. “Go girls go,” two young sisters wrote on a sign in crayon. A group of middle schoolers held a long sign reading “The sky is not the limit!!”

At the same time, many expressed hope this will become routine in the future.

Tracy Caldwell Dyson, a three-time spacewalker who looked on from Mission Control in Houston, added: “Hopefully, this will now be considered normal.”

NASA originally wanted to conduct an all-female spacewalk last spring, but did not have enough medium-size suits ready to go until summer. Koch and Meir were supposed to install more new batteries in a spacewalk next week, but had to venture out three days earlier to deal with an equipment failure that occurred over the weekend. It was the second such failure of a battery charger this year.


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