The world's first all-female spacewalking team made history high above Earth on Friday, replacing a broken part of the International Space Station's power grid.
Achieving the milestone
As NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir successfully completed the job with wrenches, screwdrivers and power-grip tools, it marked the first time in a half-century of spacewalking that men weren't part of the action. They insisted they were just doing their job after years of training, following in the footsteps of women who paved the way.
'Sky is not the limit'
NASA leaders, Girl Scouts and others also cheered Koch and Meir on. Parents also sent in messages of thanks and encouragement via social media. NASA included some in its TV coverage. ``Go girls go,'' two young sisters wrote on a sign in crayon. A group of middle schoolers held a long sign reading ``The sky is not the limit!!'' At the same time, many expressed hope this will become routine in the future.
What did they do?
The spacewalkers' main job was to replace the faulty 19-year-old old charge-regulating device _ the size of a big, bulky box _ for one of the three new batteries that was installed last week by Koch and Andrew Morgan. As the seven-hour spacewalk drew to a close, Mission Control declared success, informing the astronauts that the new charger seemed to be working and the space station was back to full power. The women dragged in the broken unit so it can be returned to Earth early next year for analysis.
About Christina Koch and Jessica Meir
Meir, a marine biologist 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, an electrical engineer who is seven months into an 11-month mission that will be the longest ever by a woman. Both are members of NASA's Astronaut Class of 2013, the only one equally split between women and men. Pairing up for a spacewalk was especially meaningful for Koch and Meir; they're close friends. They're also both former Girl Scouts. It took two decades for women to catch up with men in the spacewalking arena.
Who was the world's first spacewalker?
The world's first spacewalker on March 18, 1965, Soviet cosmonaut Alexei Leonov, died last week. NASA astronaut Ed White became the first U.S. spacewalker less than three months after Leonov's feat. Women did not follow out the hatch until 1984. The first was Soviet cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya. Sullivan followed three months later.