On the first ever all-female spacewalk, NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir ventured outside the International Space Station at about 7:50 a.m., Friday, Oct. 18, to replace faulty equipment on the station’s exterior. The live coverage was televised on NASA Television and the agency’s website.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and former astronaut and acting Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations Ken Bowersox hosted a media teleconference to discuss the historical significance of the event as the agency looks forward to putting the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024.
The astronauts will replace a faulty battery charge/discharge unit (BCDU) that failed to activate following the Oct. 11 installation of new lithium-ion batteries on the space station’s exterior structure. The BCDUs regulate the amount of charge put into the batteries that collect energy from the station’s solar arrays to power station systems during periods when the station orbits during nighttime passes around Earth. Though the BCDU failure has not impacted station operations or crew safety, it does prevent the new batteries from providing increased station power.
Koch was the extravehicular crew member 1 (EV1) wearing the spacesuit with the red stripes, and Meir was the extravehicular crew member 2 (EV2) wearing the suit with no stripes. The spacewalk was the 221st in support of station assembly, maintenance and upgrades and the eighth outside the station this year. This was Koch’s fourth spacewalk and Meir’s first.
It was the first spaceflight for both women, who were selected as astronaut candidates in 2013 as part of the first class, of which 50% were women.
Meir was the 15th woman to spacewalk, and the 14th U.S. woman. It was the 43rd spacewalk to include a woman. Women have been performing spacewalks since 1984, when Russian cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya spacewalked in July and NASA astronaut Kathryn Sullivan conducted a spacewalked in October.