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World’s First Female Spacewalking Team Makes History High above Earth

As NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir emerged one by one, it marked the first time in a half-century of spacewalking

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World, Female, Spacewalking
In this photo provided by NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir exits the International Space Station on Oct. 18, 2019. VOA

The world’s first female spacewalking team made history high above Earth on Friday, floating out of the International Space Station to fix a broken part of the power network.

As NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir emerged one by one, it marked the first time in a half-century of spacewalking that a woman floated out without a male crewmate.

America’s first female spacewalker from 35 years ago, Kathy Sullivan, was delighted. She said It’s good to finally have enough women in the astronaut corps and trained for spacewalking for this to happen.

NASA leaders – along with women and others around the world – cheered Koch and Meir on. At the same time, many noted that this will hopefully become routine in the future.

World, Female, Spacewalking
In this photo released by NASA on Oct. 17, 2019, U.S. astronauts Jessica Meir, left, and Christina Koch pose for a photo in the International Space Station. VOA

“We’ve got qualified women running the control, running space centers, commanding the station, commanding spaceships and doing spacewalks,” Sullivan told The Associated Press earlier this week. “And golly, gee whiz, every now and then there’s more than one woman in the same place.”

Tracy Caldwell Dyson, a three-time spacewalker who watched from Mission Control, added: “Hopefully, this will now be considered normal.”

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine watched the big event unfold from NASA headquarters in Washington.

“We have the right people doing the right job at the right time,”he said. “They are an inspiration to people all over the world including me. And we’re very excited to get this mission underway.”

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NASA originally wanted to conduct an all-female spacewalk last spring, but did not have enough medium-size suits ready to go. Koch and Meir were supposed to install more new batteries in a spacewalk next week, but had to venture out three days earlier to deal with an equipment failure that occurred over the weekend. They need to replace an old battery charger for one of the three new batteries that was installed last week by Koch and Andrew Morgan.

“Jessica and Christina, we are so proud of you. You’re going to do great today,” Morgan radioed from inside as the women exited the hatch.

Meir, making her spacewalking debut, became the 228th person in the world to conduct a spacewalk and the 15th woman.

It was the fourth spacewalk for Koch, who is seven months into an 11-month mission that will be the longest ever by a woman. (VOA)

Next Story

Most Distant World Ever Explored Gets New Name. Check it Here

NASA's New Horizons spacecraft flew past the snowman-shaped Arrokoth on New Year's Day, 3 years after exploring Pluto

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World, Official, Arrokoth
FILE - This Jan. 1, 2019 image made available by NASA shows "Arrokoth" which means "sky" in the language of the Native American Powhatan people. VOA

The most distant world ever explored 4 billion miles away finally has an official name: Arrokoth.

That means “sky” in the language of the Native American Powhatan people, NASA said Tuesday.

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft flew past the snowman-shaped Arrokoth on New Year’s Day, 3 years after exploring Pluto. At the time, this small icy world 1 billion miles (1.6 billion kilometers) beyond Pluto was nicknamed Ultima Thule given its vast distance from us.

“The name ‘Arrokoth’ reflects the inspiration of looking to the skies,” lead scientist Alan Stern of Southwest Research Institute said in a statement, “and wondering about the stars and worlds beyond our own.”

World, Official, Arrokoth
That means “sky” in the language of the Native American Powhatan people, NASA said Tuesday. Wikimedia Commons

The name was picked because of the Powhatan’s ties to the Chesapeake Bay region.

New Horizons is operated from Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Lab in Laurel, Maryland. The Hubble Space Telescope — which discovered Arrokoth in 2014 — has its science operations in Baltimore.

The New Horizons team got consent for the name from Powhatan Tribal elders and representatives, according to NASA. The International Astronomical Union and its Minor Planet Center approved the choice.

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Arrokoth is among countless objects in the so-called Kuiper Belt, or vast Twilight Zone beyond the orbit of Neptune. New Horizons will observe some of these objects from afar as it makes its way deeper into space. (VOA)