NASA astronauts to carry out first all-female spacewalk

NASA astronauts to carry out first all-female spacewalk

NASA astronauts to carry out first all-female spacewalk

NASA astronauts Anne McClain and Christina Koch will conduct an all-female spacewalk for the first time in history, along with Canadian Space Agency flight controller Kristen Facciol.

As part of Expedition 59, NASA astronauts McClain and Koch will carry out the spacewalk on March 29. They'll be supported on the ground by Facciol, who will be on the console at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Facciol revealed her announcement March 1 via Twitter when she alerted her followers she would be "on console providing support for the FIRST ALL FEMALE SPACEWALK."

"As currently scheduled, the March 29 spacewalk will be the first with only women," NASA spokeswoman Stephanie Schierholz told American broadcaster CNN in an emailed statement on March 6.

"It is the second in a series of three planned spacewalks. Anne also will join Nick Hague for the March 22 spacewalk. And, of course, assignments and schedules could always change."

"It was not orchestrated to be this way; these spacewalks were originally scheduled to take place in the fall," Schierholz added. "In addition to the two female spacewalkers, the Lead Flight Director is Mary Lawrence, and Jackie Kagey (also a woman), is the lead EVA (spacewalk) flight controller."

The NASA website shows the spacewalk will last about seven hours.

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.

Soviet cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya became the first woman to carry out a spacewalk on 25 July 1984.

 There have been 213 spacewalks at the International Space Station since 1998 for the purposes of maintenance, repairs, testing of new equipment or science experiments, according to NASA.

Fewer than 11% of the more than 500 people who have been to space have been female, and spacewalk teams have either been all-male or male-female.

In the nearly 60 years of spaceflight, there have only been four times when expeditions included two female members trained for spacewalks.