NASA has planned the first ever all-female spacewalk for the latter half of this month. Astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir are scheduled to perform the historic undertaking on October 21. The announcement was made during a briefing by the agency that detailed 10 upcoming spacewalks by astronauts on the International Space Station.
The first scheduled all-female spacewalk, to be undertaken by Koch and astronaut Anne McClain was scrapped in March. McClain was unable to participate because there was not another suit configured for a spacewalk available in the right size. Two medium-sized spacesuits existed on the ISS, but only one was prepped for a spacewalk.
McClain herself reportedly made the decision to step aside and be replaced by a male astronaut and the teams supported her. Koch conducted the spacewalk with fellow astronaut Nick Hague instead. McClain has since returned to Earth. Koch has reportedly now configured the second medium spacesuit to be suitable for a spacewalk.
Meir arrived on the space station for her first mission this week and is scheduled to spend more than six months aboard the station. Meir and Koch have trained together for the last six years because they’re members of NASA’s Astronaut Class of 2013. Their class is the first and only astronaut class with an even split between men and women at four each. Both Koch and Meir have trained in medium-sized suits for the last six years.
Their spacewalk will be to plug in new, upgraded batteries for the solar power system. It will be the fourth of five spacewalks for battery work. Koch will conduct three spacewalks in October, one alongside NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan on October 6, another with Morgan on October 11, and the walk with Meir on October 21. Meir will also conduct a spacewalk with European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano in addition to her first spacewalk with Koch.