NASA astronauts Anne McClain and Christina Koch will be making history by taking part in the first all-female spacewalk on March 29. Their mission involves leaving the International Space Station (ISS) to replace batteries that were installed a year ago.
Canadian Space Agency flight director Mary Lawrence and flight controller Kristen Facciol will be on the ground providing support to the astronauts.
Facciol revealed the news on March 1 on Twitter.
I just found out that I’ll be on console providing support for the FIRST ALL FEMALE SPACEWALK with @AstroAnnimal and @Astro_Christina and I can not contain my excitement!!!! #WomenInSTEM #WomenInEngineering #WomenInSpace
— Kristen Facciol (@kfacciol) March 1, 2019
The spacewalk is estimated to last seven hours. McClain is already on the ISS as part of Expedition 58 and Koch will be leaving for her first space flight on March 14.
Earth will learn a lot during his busy week on @Space_Station – today he kept me company while we checked our suit sizing to account for space growth (I am 2 inches taller than when I launched!), then we did some translation adaptation. pic.twitter.com/A89tJauyQu
— Anne McClain (@AstroAnnimal) March 4, 2019
According to NASA, spacewalks are carried out in order to fix spacecraft or satellites in space which alleviates the necessity of bringing them back to Earth to be repaired. In addition to carrying out maintenance and repairs, spacewalks are used to test new equipment or conduct science experiments.
On 25 July 1984, Soviet cosmonaut Svetlana Yevgenyevna Savitskaya became the first woman to carry out a spacewalk as well as the first woman to fly to space twice.
Since 1998, 213 spacewalks have taken place at the ISS, and out of more than 500 people who have been to space, less than 11 percent have been female. In the past, there have only been four times when expeditions included two female members trained for spacewalks.