Topline: After drawing criticism—and allegations of sexism—for postponing the first-ever all-female spacewalk earlier this year, NASA announced Friday that the historic walk is scheduled (again) for later this month.
- Astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir will walk outside the International Space Station on October 21.
- Koch and Mier will install lithium-ion batteries to power the space station, which are more powerful than the nickel-hydrogen batteries currently in use.
- In March, the original spacewalk was cancelled because NASA didn’t have two space suits that fit both women.
- The move drew criticism from the likes of Saturday Night Live and Hillary Clinton.
- Now, NASA has configured two medium-size suits, so two women can complete the spacewalk together for the first time.
Crucial quote: When asked how they felt about their accomplishments being qualified by their gender, Koch said on NASA TV: “In the end, I do think it’s important because of the historical nature of what we’re doing and in the past, women haven’t always been at the table.”
Meir then added, “What we’re doing now shows all the work that went in decades prior. All the women that worked to get us where we are today. I think the nice thing for us is we don’t even really think about it on a daily basis. It’s just normal. We’re part of the team.”
Tangent: Anne McClain, the astronaut originally assigned to the spacewalk in March, is no longer on the International Space Station. McClain is facing what many believe is the first criminal case in space after her wife accused her—amid a bitter divorce battle—of identity theft by accessing her bank account without permission from the space station, the New York Times reported.