Nasa astronauts to carry out first all-female spacewalk

The first all-female spacewalk is to take place later this month, 35 years after a woman first took part in one.

The US space agency Nasa said astronauts Christina Koch and Anne McClain will walk outside the International Space Station on 29 March on a mission to replace batteries installed last summer.

They will receive ground support from flight director Mary Lawrence and Kristen Facciol of the Canadian Space Agency in Nasa’s Johnson Space Center in Texas.

“I cannot contain my excitement!” Facciol tweeted.

Soviet cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya became the first woman to carry out a spacewalk on 25 July 1984.

There have been 213 spacewalks at the ISS since 1998 for the purposes of maintenance, repairs, testing of new equipment or science experiments, according to Nasa.

Fewer than 11% of the more than 500 people who have been to space have been female, and spacewalk teams have either been all-male or male-female.

In the nearly 60 years of spaceflight, there have only been four times when expeditions included two female members trained for spacewalks.

McClain is on the ISS and her Twitter posts with a stuffed toy Earth have garnered tens of thousands of retweets.

Anne McClain

Earth’s 3rd day started with getting the blood (plasma?) pumping! First the treadmill, then weights – he even got some deadlifts in with me. It is important to exercise every day, not just for our muscles but also to protect our bones from losing density in microgravity.

March 6, 2019

Koch is due to lift off on 14 March for her first space flight. NASA estimated their walk will last about seven hours.

McClain and Koch were part of the 2013 Nasa class that was 50% female.

“It definitely resonates with women around the agency that we’re at this point,” Nasa’s Stephanie Schierholz said.


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