The first woman to ever enter into space was Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova, when in 1963 The US and former USSR had their rivalry at the peak. The US was late to follow suit as it sent its first women astronaut, Sally Ride, to space in 1983. However, it has made significant progress since then. Its state-backed space exploration agency NASA has more women astronauts than any other country, and on this 18th October, it has made history with the first all-female spacewalk ever.
Christina Koch and Jessica Meir, the former is an electrical engineer and the latter is a marine biologist, were on a 7-hour long spacewalk to replace a faulty battery charge/discharge unit (BCDU). The critical component regulates the charge that goes into nickel-hydrogen batteries in the International Space Station. The task was a part of wider mission to replace the old batteries with a new more powerful lithium-ion unit.
The mission was scheduled in March, but had to be delayed due to a ridiculous reason—a properly fitting spacesuit for one of the female was not present. The whole fiasco gave way to a lot of public backlash, and NASA was criticized all and sundry. Serious allegations of sexism were leveled against the organization, and they hurt its reputation. NASA has been trying, for long, to salvage its image and this recent feat was part of a whole-hearted effort to end discrimination on all levels.
Jessica Meir was overjoyed by the sight of Earth lit up by the sunlight. She said, “It symbolizes exploration by all that dare to dream and work hard to achieve that dream.”
NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine emphasized the symbolic significance of the day. He said, “We want to make sure that space is available to all people, and this is another milestone in that evolution.”
He added, ”I have an 11-year-old daughter, I want her to see herself as having all the same opportunities that I found myself as having when I was growing up.”
In the middle of the spacewalk, President Donald Trump made a connection to the astronauts. He congratulated them in the following words, “You are very brave, brilliant women, you represent this country so well,” the president added. “We are very proud of you.”
In a lot many other appraises, Kamala Harris made distinguishing remarks. She wrote, “It’s a reminder that for women, even the sky doesn’t have to be the limit.”
This mission has set the stage for NASA’s future exploration goals, and the top of the list is its plan to return to Moon by 2024—Artemis. It is going to be the first time in history when a woman will step foot on the Moon.