1st all-woman spacewalk set to take place this week

James Marshall
October 18, 2019

Meir was originally scheduled to embark on a spacewalk today to replace a faulty power unit, but station managers made a decision to postpone the spacewalk as "the failed unit has no impact on the crew's safety or ongoing laboratory experiments". The balky charger is 19 years old; the one that failed in the spring was nearly as old. The astronauts will use a robotic arm to assist them.

Research conducted aboard the ISS often requires one or more of the unusual conditions present in low Earth orbit, such as low-gravity or oxygen.

Last week, astronauts conducted two spacewalks to replace old batteries that make up the station's solar power network.

The mission, which was originally scheduled for October 21, aims to replace a faulty battery part. Date is unknown bc the task was unforeseen: replacing a unit that failed during power-ups of new batteries. Another BCDU unit malfunctioned last spring.

Despite the slight loss of power, the station and its six occupants are safe, and science operations are unaffected, NASA said. However, the failure of the power unit does prevent the new lithium-ion battery installed earlier this month from providing additional station power.

An all-women spacewalk was planned to be held earlier this year in March back then it was to involve Koch and NASA astronaut Anne McClain. The BCDU which failed back in April has already arrived on Earth and researchers are going to compare the two to check if both of them were affected by the same issue.

Todd declined to be more specific about which day the spacewalk would occur. And, he said, it really doesn't matter whether the walk occurs Thursday or Friday.

"We do anticipate that will stick", NASA spokesperson Stephanie Schierholz told NPR in an email. Meir and Christina Koch will carry out that spacewalk.

Before proceeding with the spacewalk, NASA will host a media teleconference later today at 4:30 PM EDT. Kristen Facciol of the Canadian Space Agency was set to provide ground support at the Johnson Space Center in Houston as the astronauts ventured outside of the ISS. "That broadens our field of folks to hire from, so that means we're seeing higher percentages of women in the incoming astronaut classes, so that means we're seeing higher percentages of women onboard the International Space Station".

Overall, there will be 10 spacewalks over the next three months, "a cadence that has not been experienced since assembly of the space station was completed in 2011", according to a tweet by NASA.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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