NASA on Tuesday announced that the much-awaited all-female spacewalk will finally take place later this week. NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir have been selected by the US space agency to venture outside the International Space Station (ISS) for replacing a power controller on the coming Thursday or Friday.
The two astronauts were earlier scheduled to venture outside the ISS on Monday, October 21, as part of a series of space excursions for installing new batteries. However, owing to a failure of one of the power controllers over the weekend, the spacewalk was rescheduled to this week, the space agency said in an update.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine took to Twitter and announced, “.@Space_Station update: our first all-female spacewalk with @Astro_Christina and @Astro_Jessica will be Thursday or Friday to replace a faulty battery charge-discharge unit,” adding that the agency would hold a press conference later that evening.
.@Space_Station update: our first all-female spacewalk with @Astro_Christina and @Astro_Jessica will be Thursday or Friday to replace a faulty battery charge-discharge unit. We’ll have a telecon later today. More details: https://t.co/0T6OOfuQQc pic.twitter.com/zQ7cH4fIBg
— Jim Bridenstine (@JimBridenstine) October 15, 2019
At the presser, the space agency’s officials said that power glitch was a repeat of an issue that had occurred back in April after a battery-pack swap. The faulty battery charge/discharge unit (BCDU) will return to Earth after a few months through a SpaceX Dragon cargo capsule, After which the engineers will be inspecting the hardware to understand and analyse what had happened, as per a report by Space.com. The BCDU which failed back in April has already arrived on Earth and researchers are going to compare the two to check if both of them were affected by the same issue.
So far, 15 women have been a part of a spacewalk and on each occasion, there was a male astronaut accompanying them. This is the reason, this particular upcoming spacewalk is going to be historic as there will only be two female astronauts involved in this. It has been long overdue.
An all-women spacewalk was planned to be held earlier this year in March back then it was to involve Koch and NASA astronaut Anne McClain. However, that could not be carried out because properly fitted spacesuits were not ready in time for the two astronauts. McClain returned to Earth in June.
In a tweet, McClain wrote, “Third spacewalk in a busy season of spacewalks this week. Date is unknown bc the task was unforeseen: replacing a unit that failed during power-ups of new batteries. Very good that we have 4 expert spacewalkers on board to shoulder this tough task. They are the A-team!”.
The present Expedition 61 of ISS consists of six people: NASA astronauts Koch, Meir and Andrew Morgan, Russian cosmonauts Aleksandr Skvortsov and Oleg Skripochka and the commander of the mission Luca Parmitano who is from European Space Agency.