US astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir flew out Friday of the International Space Station (ISS) to replace electrical equipment, marking the first time in six decades of space history that two women are leading such an outing.
A 100% female release was scheduled for March, but NASA had to cancel it because they did not have two ready-made combinations of the right size, an embarrassing episode for the agency. Friday's exit was uneventful since 11:38 and was punctuated by a congratulatory call from President Donald Trump, as the two women floated in a vacuum, 415 kilometers above the Indian Ocean, at the usual speed eight kilometers per second.
"We do not want to give ourselves too much credit"
"You are very brave, very intelligent women," Donald Trump told them from the White House. "We are very proud of you". "We do not want to give too much credit, because many women have gone into space before us," said Jessica Meir, a 42-year-old marine biologist recruited in 2013 by NASA. "There is a long line of women scientists, explorers, engineers and astronauts, we walked in their footsteps."
Out of 220 space sorties since the beginning of the ISS in 1998, none had been made by two women at the same time. Jessica Meir is only the fifteenth woman in history to "walk" in the void. The men of the current crew (an American, two Russians and an Italian) stayed inside.