Author: Kopal Kumar
From: Saint Louis, Missouri, USA
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We’ve heard of the ongoing gender wage gap and the debates over whether or not it is actually a real thing. Everyone has heard of the advantages men have over women, whether it pertains to their ability to roam around alone at night or their ability to be taken seriously. Since we have so many differences, it’s important that women are celebrated once they cross milestones and achieve things that no one ever thought a woman would be able to achieve. Two women were about to cross a milestone beyond our world (literally!) but one of them had to give it up.
Last year astronauts Anne Mcclain and Christina Koch were scheduled to conduct the first all-woman space walk. While training for this mission, Mcclain realized that a medium sized suit would be better suited for her needs rather than a large sized suit. However, the International Space Station (ISS), where the mission was to be conducted, only had one medium suit readily available and it was for Koch. There were two medium suits available but one still had to be properly configured. Properly configuring the suit would require hours of crew labor and an additional risk to fix it in time for the space walk. Thus, NASA decided to reassign Mcclain’s task to Nick Hague, causing such a large milestone to be postponed.
A New Plan
There was a lot of commotion and controversy since an all-female spacewalk has been long overdue. However, this was resolved in October in 2019 when Christina Koch and Jessica Meir embarked on the first all-woman spacewalk. Although it took place seven months after the original scheduling, it was still an exciting moment for space exploration and all the women involved or interested. “I think it’s important because of the historical nature of what we’re doing,” Koch said ahead of the spacewalk. “In the past, women haven’t always been at the table. It’s wonderful to be contributing to the space program at a time when all contributions are being accepted, when everyone has a role. That can lead in turn to increased chance for success.” The two women ventured feet first out of the International Space Station to complete their task of replacing a failed power control unit.
Koch was first out of the ISS, followed by Meir who carried a tool bag. They spent five and a half hours on this spacewalk, and were attached to handrails on the exterior of the International Space Station the entire time. They used harnesses and pairs of metal carabiners to remain secure. Throughout the five hour long mission, the two astronauts live streamed it while simultaneously hanging above Planet Earth.
Why Does This Matter?
Many ask why this space walk is such a big deal. NASA and other space agencies have been around for a while, and evidence shows that throughout this time, there have not been as many opportunities for women as there are for men. In the past, only 14 women have carried out space walks. This is a very small number in comparison to the 234 men who carried out these spacewalks. There are also a lot of biological differences that may prevent women from making it to space. One study showed that women are more likely than men to experience faintness as a result of “orthostatic hypotension”, a cardiovascular issue.
Overall, these women and this spacewalk have become a big inspiration to numerous young girls around the world. These girls may now go on to change our world and do things no one could have imagined. It’s important that missions like this spacewalk continue to happen so that more young girls will realize their purpose, go past their comfort level and succeed in life.
Author: Kopal Kumar
Hi I’m Kopal! I’m a sophomore in highschool from Stl, MO. In my free time, I love to play tennis and watch criminal minds!
Christian Davenport, Lateshia Beachum. “NASA's All-Female Spacewalk Makes History: 'One Giant Leap for WOMANkind!'.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 18 Oct. 2019, www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2019/10/18/nasa-live-spacewalk-christina-koch-jessica-meir/.
Devlin, Hannah. “Nasa Astronauts Complete First Ever All-Female Spacewalk.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 18 Oct. 2019, www.theguardian.com/science/2019/oct/18/nasa-all-female-spacewalk-christina-koch-jessica-meir.
Fortin, Jacey, and Karen Zraick. “First All-Female Spacewalk Canceled Because NASA Doesn't Have Two Suits That Fit.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 26 Mar. 2019, www.nytimes.com/2019/03/25/science/female-spacewalk-canceled.html.