NASA Schedules Its First All-Female Spacewalk


On March 29, if all goes according to plan, astronauts Anne McClain and Christina Koch will exit the International Space Station to conduct work outside the spacecraft-marking the first time in history that a spacewalk has been conducted by an all-female crew, reports Shaiann Frazier of NBC News. That means it's a happy coincidence the spacewalk is now set to occur during International Women's Month. McClain is on the ISS right now, while Koch will head to space on March 14 to prepare for the mission. Later that year, NASA astronaut Kathryn Dwyer Sullivan became the first American woman to walk in space.

It's a routine outing, and the first of three planned for this particular series, but this one is special for reasons beyond the mission itself - it's the first ever all-female spacewalk.

"As now scheduled, the March 29 spacewalk will be the first with only women", NASA spokeswoman Stephanie Schierholz told CNN in an emailed statement Wednesday. Astronauts also conduct spacewalks to fix satellites or spacecraft that are already in space, instead of having them brought back to Earth to fix.

According to NASA, any time spent outside a vehicle while in space, including fixing equipment and conducting experiments, is considered a spacewalk.

The pair, along with Hague, were members of NASA's 2013 astronaut class, which consisted of 50 percent women.

The objective of the spacewalk is to upgrade batteries at the space station, which were delivered last summer.

The following year, cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya walked in space for another historic first, on July 25, 1984.

NASA opened the space program to female applicants in 1978.

Jackie Kagey will be the lead spacewalk flight controller, HuffPost reported, and she will be joined by lead flight director Mary Lawrence and engineer Kristen Facciol at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. She pointed to the first African-American administrator, Charles Bolden, who said in 2016, "Being the first African American Administrator is all well and good, but I want to make sure I'm not the last".