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First All-Female Spacewalk Will Happen This Month

Spacesuit issue forced earlier cancellation
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 7, 2019 12:11 AM CDT
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NASA astronaut Jessica Meir on Sept. 29, 2019, Christina H. Koch, left, and Meir greet each other after Meir's arrival on the International Space Station.   (NASA via AP)
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(Newser) – A space milestone is set to happen later this month—the first all-female spacewalk, which was canceled earlier this year because of a lack of medium-sized spacesuits. NASA says American astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir will pair up Oct. 21 in one of five planned spacewalks to swap out old batteries on the International Space Station's solar panels, Space.com reports. They both have medium-sized spacesuits, one of which was brought to the ISS in June. The AP reports that Koch is on course for another record: She is more than 200 days into a 300-day mission, which be the longest-ever spaceflight by a woman.

"In the past, women haven't always been at the table," Koch, an electrical engineer, said last week. "And it's wonderful to be contributing to the human spaceflight program at a time when all contributions are being accepted, when everyone has a role, and that can lead, in turn, to increased chance for success." Koch and Meir, a marine biologist who arrived at the ISS last week, were both graduates of NASA's Astronaut Class of 2013, which was evenly split between men and women. The AP notes that since the first spacewalk in 1965, they have been performed by 213 men but just 14 women. NASA space station program manager Kirk Shireman says they are "having a lot of medium suit people fly" in the next couple of years. (Read more spacewalk stories.)

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