NASA has announced that the first-ever all-female spacewalk outside the International Space Station (ISS) will be taking place on October 21, 2019. The mission was originally scheduled for March 26, 2019, but had to be postponed.
The women undertaking the spacewalk are Christina Koch and Jessica Meir, who are currently living on the ISS.
Meir was not initially a part of the spacewalk, with fellow female astronaut Anne McClain initially slated to join Chistina Koch on the spacewalk. However, although there were two medium-sized spacesuits on the ISS, one wasn’t configured and ready for spacewalking. Due to the time-consuming process of configuring a spacesuit, and with only one medium-sized spacesuit, Anne McClain returned to Earth in June and was replaced by Nick Hague.
Christina is expected to break a second record while on the space station. If she remains aboard until her expected departure in February, she will have accomplished the longest continuous spaceflight for a woman. Her time on the ISS is part of NASA’s experiment to determine the effects on the female body after a prolonged time in space.
The purpose of this fourth mission is to fit new lithium-ion batteries. According to NASA, the upgrades are due to be completed within three months, a record speed for the ISS. The walk is the fourth of a scheduled ten this year, to upgrade the space station’s power systems.
If the remaining seven missions are a success the International Space Station, in addition to a fully upgraded power system, will have fixed its alpha magnetic spectrometer, an experiment module that measures antimatter in cosmic rays, producing data that is vital to further understand the universe and how it was formed.