On Friday, history was made as the first all-female spacewalk was conducted on the International Space Station (ISS). The walk was part of a systems upgrade on the station, with this specific portion dedicated to installing new batteries and replacing a broken power unit. NASA announced the space walk earlier this week, tapping astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir to conduct the repairs.
NASA live streamed the spacewalk on Facebook and answered questions on the official ISS Twitter account all day. The mission was expected to take around five and a half hours but actually took a bit longer – the astronauts exited the ISS around 7:50 am ET and were back in at 2:55 pm, a tad over seven hours.
Koch, an astronaut since 2013, graduated from North Carolina State University with bachelor’s degrees in electrical engineering and physics and a master’s degree in electrical engineering. Prior to becoming an astronaut, she worked extensively in research roles both for NASA and other public agencies. She has been in space since March 2019 and will be there until February 2020 – by then, she will have broken the record for the longest single spaceflight by a woman.
Meir has also been an astronaut since 2013. She holds three degrees – a bachelor’s in Biology from Brown University, a master’s in Space Studies from the International Space University, and a PhD in marine biology from UC San Diego. Her background is also filled with various research positions. She has been in space since September 2019 and will return to Earth in the spring of 2020. Meir is also the first Swedish female and first Israeli female astronaut, having citizenship status with both countries.
Another milestone in human space exploration is officially complete!👩🚀🌟👩🚀@Astro_Christina & @Astro_Jessica just wrapped up the first ever #AllWomenSpacewalk. The spacewalkers spent 7 hours & 17 minutes working outside of the @Space_Station to replace a failed power unit. pic.twitter.com/gMtSYlbBBZ
— NASA Astronauts (@NASA_Astronauts) October 18, 2019
Congratulatory tweets poured in from across the world, and several politicians and administration officials took note of the event:
— Shelley Moore Capito (@SenCapito) October 18, 2019
— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) October 18, 2019
.@NASA has captured the imaginations of the world for generations. Congratulations to @Astro_Christina & @Astro_Jessica for leaving their mark on history with today’s #AllWomanSpacewalk. You are an inspiration to women & girls across America. https://t.co/HQZIDUpBNZ
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) October 18, 2019
— Stephanie Grisham (@PressSec) October 18, 2019
President Trump called the ISS early this afternoon to congratulate the women on the historic achievement:
.@POTUS called up to the first two women, @Astro_Christina and @Astro_Jessica, who conducted a spacewalk together and congratulated them on their historic accomplishment today. https://t.co/yuOTrZ4Jut pic.twitter.com/X5uzc31eeD
— Intl. Space Station (@Space_Station) October 18, 2019