American astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch are preparing to make history Friday with the first all-female spacewalk.
The two astronauts will venture outside the International Space Station to replace a faulty battery charger, a six-hour task that requires two people. Koch, who arrived at the space station in March, will be the first woman to spacewalk with Meir.
It’s not the first time two women have worked together on a spacewalk: In 1984, Kathryn Sullivan and Sally Ride became the first American women to spacewalk together during a mission to repair the space shuttle Challenger’s remote manipulator arm. But it will be the first time two women have completed a spacewalk without a man present.
“It’s really exciting, not just because we get to be the first to do this, but because it’s another step in demonstrating that anybody can do this job,” Meir told reporters Tuesday.
spacewalks are notoriously difficult to complete. Aside from the physical challenges of working in bulky spacesuits and dealing with the extreme cold and lack of gravity, astronauts also have to contend with the mental challenges of being isolated in a hostile environment.
“It’s always a team effort,” Meir said. “We’re working together to make sure we’re both successful.”
The two astronauts have been training together for months in order to be prepared for the spacewalk. Meir, who has a background in physiology, has been helping Koch, who has a background in electrical engineering, to understand the human body’s response to space. Koch, in turn, has been helping Meir to understand the electrical systems they’ll be working on during the spacewalk.
“We have a lot of confidence in each other and we know that we can rely on each other,” Koch said.
The two women are also close friends, which Meir said has made the training process more enjoyable.
“It’s really neat to be able to do this with somebody that you know so well and that you trust so much,” she said.
The spacewalk is scheduled to take place Friday morning, and will be broadcast live on NASA TV.