As I putter around my kitchen fixing toast and waking sleepy children for a routine Friday on earth, thousands of miles above my domesticity, two women are shattering the glass and atmospheric ceiling.
Astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir are busy changing out a battery pack on the International Space Station in the first all-female spacewalk in NASA history—or, as NASA has dubbed it, “HERstory”.
The duo was originally scheduled to replace a battery outside the space station three days from now, but the entire unit failed last week, changing NASA’s plan.
The all-female spacewalk is the first of its kind for NASA; before this outing, 213 men have floated in space to just 14 women.
The spacewalk is scheduled to last about five-and-a-half hours, and the women started the job just before 8 a.m. eastern time.
Koch is an electrical engineer who is on her fourth spacewalk and is seven months into an 11-month stay aboard the ISS.
Meir is a marine biologist who arrived in space last month and is making her first spacewalk.
The first all-female spacewalk was originally scheduled for March, but had to be rescheduled because NASA didn’t have enough spacesuits in size medium for the women.