For the first time in history, an all-female crew will conduct a spacewalk at the International Space Station, NASA confirmed to CNN.
As part of Expedition 59, NASA astronauts Anne McClain and Christina Koch will carry out the spacewalk on March 29. They'll be supported on the ground by Canadian Space Agency flight controller Kristen Facciol, who will be on the console at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.It was Facciol herself who first tweeted the announcement on March 1, saying: "I just found out that I'll be on console providing support for the FIRST ALL FEMALE SPACEWALK with @AstroAnnimal and @Astro_Christina and I can not contain my excitement!!!! #WomenInSTEM #WomenInEngineering #WomenInSpace."
Both McClain and Koch were part of the 2013 astronaut class, half of which were women, and came from the second largest number of applications NASA ever has received -- more than 6,100. The most recent class of flight directors was also 50% women, NASA said.
- Women earned 57.3% of bachelor’s degrees in all fields in 2013 and 50.3% of science and engineering bachelor’s degrees. However, women’s participation in science and engineering at the undergraduate level significantly differs by specific field of study. While women receive over half of bachelor’s degrees awarded in the biological sciences, they receive far fewer in the computer sciences (17.9%), engineering (19.3%), physical sciences (39%) and mathematics (43.1%).
Which is just fine, by the way. Women shouldn't be pushed into STEM careers or promoted just to make us feel good about some twisted notion of equality. And when you're talking about handling equipment that costs billions of dollars to engineer, manufacture, and maintain, you want the best, most qualified people in the driver's seat -- not the girl who got ahead because of her genitalia.
UPDATE (courtesy of GDainis in the comments and the NYT):
It hadn’t been planned as a historic mission, yet it would have represented a moment of sorts: the first all-female spacewalk.
But that moment will have to wait, NASA said Monday, because of a somewhat basic issue — spacesuit sizes.
The two astronauts who were scheduled to walk together in space on Friday, Anne C. McClain and Christina H. Koch, would both need to wear a medium-size torso component. But only one is readily available at the International Space Station.
So now there will only be one female spacewalkers. Apparently, no one thought to pack a large woman for the flight.