Two U.S. astronauts carried out the first-ever all-female spacewalk for humankind as they ventured outside the International Space Station (ISS) on Friday.
NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir began the spacewalk at about 7:50 a.m. U.S. Eastern Time (1250 GMT), according to NASA live TV. They have been tasked with replacing a power controller that failed during the weekend.
Koch wore a suit with red stripes and Meir wore a suit with no stripes. This is Koch’s fourth spacewalk and Meir’s first. Meir will be the 15th woman to spacewalk and the 14th U.S. spacewoman, according to NASA.
It is NASA’s second attempt to set the milestone in human spaceflight. The first attempt was canceled in March when the U.S. space agency failed to provide enough spacesuits for two women.
“I think it’s important because of the historical nature of what we’re doing. In the past women haven’t always been at the table. It’s wonderful to be contributing to the space program at a time when all contributions are being accepted,” said Koch in a recent NASA interview.
The spacewalk will take about 5.5 hours. Astronaut Luca Parmitano with the European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA Flight Engineer Andrew Morgan assisted the two female spacewalkers. Parmitano controlled the Canadarm2 robotics arm and Morgan provided airlock and spacesuit support.
The power controller they are replacing is known as the battery charge-discharge unit (BCDU) that regulates the charge to the batteries that collect and distribute solar power to the orbiting lab’s systems.
The controller failed to activate following the Oct. 11 installation of new lithium-ion batteries on the space station’s exterior structure, according to NASA.
ISS managers are investigating the loss of the BCDU and have rescheduled the remaining three battery replacement spacewalks for a future date.