Six months after canceling their original mission plans due to a spacesuit snafu, NASA's all-female spacewalk is finally rescheduled to take place in just a matter of days. On Oct. 21, according to NASA, astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir will become the first two women to ever complete a spacewalk together, marking an amazing and historic first.
Koch and Meir's space mission on Oct. 21 is part of a series of 10 spacewalks required to change batteries at the International Space Station, according to The New York Times. Despite being the fourth walk in the series, Koch and Meir will make history as the first women to ever complete one together.
The upcoming spacewalk will be somewhat of a makeup for the one that was scheduled to take place in March, which didn't work out for a few reasons. Originally, Koch was scheduled to do the walk with her then crewmate Anne McClain, according to The Verge. However, the week of the walk, NASA announced that McClain would be replaced with another space station astronaut, Nick Hague. NASA cited "spacesuit availability" as the reason for the change, as McClain would need a medium, but only one was available, and that was going to Koch.
It is important to note that building a spacesuit is not as simple as ordering another shirt in a different size — it's an extremely complex process that NASA estimates takes about 5,500 hours of work, or 2.5 years. Still, the cancellation generated a lot of backlash and criticism, including from former presidential candidate Hilary Clinton, who told NASA to "make another suit."
While many were upset, McClain herself addressed the change of plans on Twitter. "This decision was based on my recommendation," she wrote back in March. "Leaders must make tough calls, and I am fortunate to work with a team who trusts my judgement. We must never accept a risk that can instead be mitigated. Safety of the crew and execution of the mission come first."
And now, six months later, it seems NASA is fully prepared for the historic mission. According to NASA, Koch and Meir are currently the only two women employed and working at the International Space Station, and are set to make several trips. But on Oct. 21, they'll do their spacewalk together.
A spacewalk technically refers to any time an astronaut exits the vehicle while in space, and specifically for a mission or job, according to NASA. A spacewalk is sometimes called an EVA, which stands for "extravehicular activity." The first person to do one was Alexei Leonov from Russia, back in 1965, according to NASA. The first American was named Ed White, also in 1965. And soon enough Koch and Meir's names will be added to another impressive list as they prepare for to make history together.
You can potentially stream the walk via sites such as Space.com, which notes that many of NASA's missions are actually filmed for viewing (it's similar to a rocketship launch, which has historically been televised).
It's clear that people are both very interested in what happens in space, and in groundbreaking moments for women. And next week will offer the perfect combination of the two.