For most, the idea of a spacewalk is quite spectacular, and typically different from the actual event. A spacewalk is, at its most basic, a home-improvement project– a project that lacks gravity and the Earth beneath your feet, but is an otherwise quite ordinary happening. When something in the home stops working, it gets fixed or replaced; when something on the space station stops working, as it did in early October, it must also get repaired.
What’s even more extraordinary than fixing a home in space, is that for the first time in history, the two astronauts tethered to the International Space Station–replacing a battery component to the station’s exterior– were women.
Christina Koch and Jessica Meir made history with their five-and-a-half-hour spacewalk as the first all-woman team to do so. The two astronauts were the 13th and 14th women to conduct a spacewalk since the first woman, Svetlana Savitskaya, did it in 1984. Earlier in the year, there was an attempt to have the first all-woman spacewalk, but it inevitably failed due to ISS’s lack of sizeable spacesuits.
Christina Koch has been on three previous spacewalks, while it was Jessica Meir’s first time. She trained for years in the neutral buoyancy lab at the Johnson Space Center, but she felt that nothing could quite compare to the unique experience of being in space.
“It really was an incredible experience and a mixture of emotions going out the door the first time. I’ll never forget looking down and seeing my boots and the Earth below,” Meir said.
Koch shared, “The clarity of the Earth below you is absolutely stunningly beautiful. And how close it feels. Seeing nothing but a vibrant ocean beneath your feet is an amazing experience.”
Christina Koch arrived on the International Space Station on March 14th for her first spaceflight mission and is slated to return to Earth in February of 2020, making her mission the longest single spaceflight by a woman. Jessica Meir started her first six-month mission at the beginning of October. The two may conduct another spacewalk together.
Jessica Meir and Christina Koch are also among 12 women listed to possibly be the first woman astronaut to walk on the moon in 2024. While the selection process details are unknown, the women listed are beyond appreciative of the feat ahead. Koch added, “I will probably at least know the first woman to walk on the moon. They will carry the hopes and dreams of everyone to explore with them.”