NASA astronauts set for first-ever all female spacewalk

NASA astronauts Anne McClain left and Christina H. Koch will take part in a spacewalk March 29

NASA astronauts Anne McClain left and Christina H. Koch will take part in a spacewalk March 29

An all-female spacewalk will take place for the first time in history at the International Space Station. Both astronauts were part of NASA's 2013 astronaut class and these expeditions to space are their first.

Kristen Facciol from the Canadian Space Agency will provide the necessary ground support from NASA's Johnson Space Centre in Houston.

NASA spokeswoman Stephanie Schierholz confirmed that the upcoming walk will be "the first with only women", but added that "it was not orchestrated to be this way". Mary Lawrence will be the Lead Flight Director while Jackie Kagey will take charge of the spacewalk flight controller. Most of the ISS's 213 missions have been conducted by male astronauts with the help of some female crew members, though never in the ISS's 21 years and 213 spacewalks has there been an all-female spacewalk.

NASA and spaceflight in general continue to see new milestones happen as an all-female crew is set to do a spacewalk just after the successful launch of Elon Musk's Crew Dragon space capsule. Christina Koch and Ann McClain need to replace batteries on the ISS that were installed last summer.

While the announcement it a huge step forward in the battle for gender equality, it's worth noting that women still only make up 11 per cent of people in space.

It will be the second of three walks scheduled for Expedition 59's mission.

The spacewalk on 29 March is expected to last roughly 7 hours, NASA announced on its website, and will be streamed live for viewers worldwide. Shortly after Savitskaya's spacewalk, NASA astronaut Kathryn Dwyer Sullivan became the first American women to perform an extra-vehicular activity during Space Shuttle Challenger mission. Since then, 59 women have flown to space as of 2017, including cosmonauts, astronauts, payload specialists and foreign national, according to NASA. Koch will be joined by NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin. Facciol made her announcement on March 1st via Twitter, expressing her excitement.

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