Women-only spacewalk rescheduled after smaller spacesuit arrives

NASA finally has enough spacesuits for first ever all-woman spacewalk on October 21

NASA finally has enough spacesuits for first ever all-woman spacewalk on October 21

On Oct. 21, NASA astronauts Koch and Jessica Meir will don two medium-sized spacesuits for one of five power-upgrade spacewalks. The replacement batteries are powerful lithium-ion ones that were delivered a week ago.

Throughout the EVA, live footage was provided courtesy of cameras mounted on the outside of the station, supplemented by additional recording equipment located in the helmets of the suits, which gave an astronaut-eye view of the work as it progressed. The new lithium-ion batteries have much better energy density so that each new battery is equivalent to two of the versions being replaced.

In an image provided by NASA, astronauts Jessica Meira, left, and Christina Koch on the International Space Station.

The battery upgrades first started in 2017.

Koch and Meir will plug in upgraded batteries for the solar power system when the conduct their spacewalk on October 21.

"What we're doing now shows all of the work that went in for the decades prior, all of the women that worked to get us where we are today", Meir, who arrived on the space station in September, said on NASA TV.

The International Space Station generates power using solar panels but batteries are required when the space lab is in the dark and not receiving any sunlight.

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Next, the new battery for the installation came, with an identical methodical handover. It is too far for the 58-foot (17-meter) robot arm to reach, forcing astronauts to lug the batteries back and forth themselves. Koch mentioned at one point that he is right next to them.

The decision by NASA though was largely one borne out of logistics, as there are a limited number of spacesuits on the space station and NASA has lacked the funds to update its spacesuits in recent years.

The first all-female spacewalk has been rescheduled for later this month.

Then five more US-Italian spacewalks will be conducted in November and December to fix a key science instrument.

Koch conducted a spacewalk along with fellow astronaut Nick Hague instead of McClain at the time. At the end of her mission in February 2020, she will set a record for the longest single spaceflight by a woman.

Christina Koch is already two-thirds of the way through the mission which will total more than 300 days and make it the longest continuous spaceflight made by a woman.

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