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. 

Congratulatory tweets poured in from across the world, and several politicians and administration officials took note of the event: 

President Trump called the ISS early this afternoon to congratulate the women on the historic achievement:

This milestone was originally scheduled to be broken back in late March, but an issue with the space suits prevented Anne McClain from participating in a walk with Christina Koch. Nonetheless, today marks an incredible achievement for the female astronauts on board and for NASA!

Jillian K