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NASA Confirms Spacewalk Scheduled With The First Ever All-Women Astronauts

In addition to the two women in space, another woman, Canadian Space Agency flight controller Kristen Facciol, is expected to be on the console at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, providing support on the seven-hour spacewalk.

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U.S. astronaut Anne McClain, a member of the main crew of the expedition to the International Space Station, before the launch of Soyuz MS-11 space ship at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Dec. 3, 2018. VOA

The U.S. space agency NASA has confirmed that it has scheduled a spacewalk by two female astronauts for the first time.

A NASA spokeswoman told CNN Wednesday, “As currently scheduled, the March 29 spacewalk will be the first with only women.”

The spacewalk, staffed by astronauts Anne McClain and Christina Koch will be the second spacewalk of three during Expedition 59, which launches March 14.

U.S. astronaut Christina Hammock Koch, a member of the International Space Station expedition, attends her final exam at the Gagarin Cosmonauts' Training Center in Star City outside Moscow, Russia, Feb. 20, 2019.
U.S. astronaut Christina Hammock Koch, a member of the International Space Station expedition, attends her final exam at the Gagarin Cosmonauts’ Training Center in Star City outside Moscow, Russia, Feb. 20, 2019. VOA

Koch is a member of Expedition 59, while McClain is currently part of the three-person crew of the International Space Station.

In addition to the two women in space, another woman, Canadian Space Agency flight controller Kristen Facciol, is expected to be on the console at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, providing support on the seven-hour spacewalk.

Male astronauts Nick Hague and David Saint-Jacques will participate in the first and third spacewalks.

It is unclear yet what is to be accomplished on the spacewalk. NASA says spacewalks are conducted for repairs, testing equipment and conducting experiments. (VOA)

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Trump Increases NASA Spending by $1.6 Billion With Goal of Returning to Moon

"I am updating my budget to include an additional $1.6 billion so that we can return to Space in a BIG WAY!"

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NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine talks to employees about the agency's progress toward sending astronauts to the moon and on to Mars during a televised event, Monday, March 11, 2019. VOA

The Trump administration asked Congress on Monday to increase NASA spending next year by an extra $1.6 billion to accommodate the accelerated goal of returning Americans to the surface of the moon by 2024.

The increased funding request, announced by President Donald Trump on Twitter, comes nearly two months after Vice President Mike Pence declared the objective of shortening by four years NASA’s timeline for putting astronauts back on the moon for the first time since 1972.

The proposed increase would bring NASA’s total spending level for the 2020 fiscal year to $22.6 billion. The bulk of the increase is earmarked for research and development for a human lunar landing system, according to a summary provided by NASA.

NASA
“I am updating my budget to include an additional $1.6 billion so that we can return to Space in a BIG WAY!”, says Trump. Pixabay

“Under my Administration, we are restoring @NASA to greatness and we are going back to the Moon, then Mars,” Trump tweeted late on Monday. “I am updating my budget to include an additional $1.6 billion so that we can return to Space in a BIG WAY!” NASA had previously aimed to return crewed spacecraft to the lunar surface by the year 2028, after first putting a “Gateway” station into orbit around the moon by 2024.

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The newly accelerated goal – an endeavor likely to cost tens of billions of dollars – comes as NASA has struggled with the help of private partners to resume human space missions from U.S. soil for the first time since the shuttle program ended in 2011.

The U.S. Apollo program, NASA’s forerunner to the effort at returning humans to Earth’s natural satellite, tallied six manned missions to the moon from 1969 to 1972. So far, only two other nations have conducted controlled “soft” landings on the moon – the former Soviet Union and China. But those were with unmanned robot vehicles. (VOA)