Washington, October 16: The first all-woman spacewalk is set to take place this week itself as NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir are scheduled to venture outside the International Space Station (ISS) on October 17 or October 18. The spacewalk will last approximately six and a half hours, according to NASA.
"@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," NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine tweeted on Tuesday. Alexei Leonov, First Man to Perform Spacewalk and Legendary Soviet Cosmonaut, Given Farewell by Russian and US Astronauts.
— Intl. Space Station (@Space_Station) October 15, 2019
Station managers decided to postpone previously planned spacewalks that had been set to install new batteries this week and next in order to replace the faulty power unit, called a Battery Charge/Discharge Unit (BCDU).
The BCDU failed to activate following the October 11 installation of new lithium-ion batteries on the space station's truss.
NASA said that the BCDU failure has not impacted station operations, safety of the crew, or the ongoing experiments aboard the orbiting laboratory, many in preparation for future human missions to the Moon and Mars. However, the failed power unit does prevent a new lithium-ion battery installed earlier this month from providing additional station power.
An all-woman spacewalk, involving Koch and NASA astronaut Anne McClain, was originally scheduled for March. But that spacewalk was scuttled because properly fitted spacesuits could not be readied in time for both astronauts, Space.com reported.
So far, the 15 women who have conducted a spacewalk did so with a male companion. So when Koch and Meir venture out of the space station this week, they will make some long-overdue history. This will be Koch's fourth spacewalk and Meir's first.