Two NASA astronauts, Christina Koch and Jessica Meir made history by completing the first space walk by an all women team as they stepped out of the international space station. This was accomplished during a routine mission to swap faulty barriers on stations exterior.
“Mission accomplished!” NASA chief Jim Bridenstine tweeted on Friday. “Today’s historic achievement paves the way for our #Artemis program, which will send the first woman to the Moon in 2024.”
“Ad Astra!” he added, Latin for “to the stars”.
Artemis, the twin sister of Apollo as per Greek mythology, is the program under which NASA plans to return to moon with more missions in 2024.
Koch and Meir stepped into the outer space on Friday 7:38 am EST to replace a faulty power unit designed to help condition energy stored from station’s solar panels.
“We don’t want to take too much credit, because there have been many other female space-walkers before us. This is just the first time that there have been two women outside at the same time,” Meir, the 15th woman to conduct a spacewalk, responded. Friday`s spacewalk, named as extravehicular activities, is in line with the US space agency`s aim to ramp up inclusivity in space.
Koch is all set to complete the longest single space flight by a woman by remaining in orbit abroad the station until February 2020. “There are a lot of people who derive motivation from inspiring stories from people who look like them, and I think that it’s an important aspect of the story to tell,” she said at a NASA briefing in Houston this month.
Sandra Magnus, a former NASA astronaut who spent 136 days on the International Space Station, told Reuters she did not want events like Friday’s spacewalk to become gimmicks. “We want them to happen because people have the skill sets and they’re available to do the job,” said Magnus.
“On the other hand, it’s important for young women to see women role models doing extraordinary things,” she said. “So there’s two sides of the coin. You want it to be normal but yet you want it to be special.”