2 astronauts are scheduled for the 1st all-female spacewalk in history

Gwen Vasquez
March 8, 2019

NASA astronauts Anne McClain, left, and Christina H. Koch will take part in a spacewalk March 29.

If all goes as scheduled, Expedition 59 astronauts Anne McClain and Christina Koch will lead a roughly seven-hour spacewalk to attend tasks on the orbiting lab's exterior, starting at 6:30 a.m. (ET).

NASA didn't originally intend to make the March 29 spacewalk historic, a spokesperson told HuffPost. Koch, who has a background in electrical engineering and physics, will launch into space on March 14 and join McClain at the ISS.

Spacewalks are held for a number of different reasons, according to NASA, including doing work outside a spacecraft, conducting science experiments and testing new equipment. NASA celebrates the accomplishments of the many highly qualified women who fill its ranks, and a couple of them are about to perform a truly history spacewalk.

"The March 29 spacewalk will be the first with only women", NASA spokeswoman Kathryn Hambleton said, hedging that "assignments and schedules could always change".

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A spacewalk, also known as "extravehicular activity" (EVA), is a broad term that applies to any time an astronaut exits a vehicle while in space.

Koch is a member of Expedition 59, while McClain is now part of the three-person crew of the International Space Station.

Valentina Tereshkova, from the Soviet Union, was the first woman in space in 1963. This happens 35 years after Russia's Svetlana Savitskaya became the first woman to walk in space. McClain, a graduate of West Point, is an OH-58 helicopter pilot and graduate of U.S. Naval Test Pilot School at Naval Air Station, Patuxent River. She mentioned in her post that she would be part of the console and provide the necessary support for the First All Female Spacewalk Team.

Now, with Canadian aerospace engineer Kristen Faccio operating as the crew's ground support from NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, the historic mission will be an appropriate milestone for female trailblazers during the month of March: Women's History Month.

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