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Editor in Chief Mohamed Wadie

NASA Launches 1st Female Spacewalk


Thu 17 Oct 2019 | 11:12 AM
Ahmed Yasser

 NASA is moving up the first all-female spacewalk on Friday, because of a power system failure at the International Space Station, a critical outing to restore lost power in the wake of an equipment failure that cropped up after new batteries were installed in the International Space Station's solar power system during two recent spacewalks.

Astronauts Christina Koch, making her 4th spacewalk, or EVA and Jessica Meir, making her first, will float outside the station to remove a malfunctioning 19-year-old battery charge-discharge unit, or BCDU, on the far left end of the station's power truss and install a 232-pound replacement.

This technical problem has forced NASA to delay three upcoming battery installation spacewalks, including a planned outing Wednesday by Meir and astronaut Drew Morgan, until engineers can figure out what went wrong.

On other hand, NASA originally planned for Koch and astronaut Anne McClain to carry out the first all-female spacewalk last March to help install a different set of solar array batteries. But the sizing of the station's available spacesuits became an issue.

Jessica Meir during spacewalk training

Meanwhile, the station is equipped with eight huge solar array wings arranged in pairs, four on each end of the power truss. Each pair of wings is equipped with an integrated electronics assembly, or IEA, that originally were loaded with 12 nickel-hydrogen batteries each to provide electricity when the lab complex flies through Earth's shadow.

 Kenny Todd the manager of space station operations and integration reported that  there's going to be a lot of emphasis in the near term on trying to understand what operationally we might be able to do to mitigate any concerns with installing these new batteries and integrating them with these BCDUs going forward.

Christina Koch 

Since the first spacewalk in 1965, there have been 227 spacewalkers, only 14 of them women. Meir will be making her first spacewalk and become No. 15. All but one of these women has been American.