“That’s one small step for (wo)man, one giant leap for (wo)mankind”

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, otherwise known as NASA, and women everywhere celebrated a historic occasion upon the first ever all-female spacewalk completed on Friday Oct. 18. The space-walk was completed by astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch when the pair left the International Space Station to replace a power controller and return the space station to its full capacity. It lasted several hours and a video of the space-walk taken with a GoPro was posted to social media. 

 Both astronauts were excited to participate in the experience and make history with their walk. Meir later tweeted, “We hope Friday’s adventure invigorates the power of all who dare to dream!”

Many were inspired by this step forward in the space program and took to social media to express their excitement. The buzz on social media has also highlighted NASA’s tenuous history with female astronauts. For instance, Koch was supposed to partake in the first all-female spacewalk much earlier this year with fellow astronaut, Anne McClain. Unfortunately, a lack of size medium suits meant she was not able to go on the historic walk with Koch and a male astronaut took her place. At the time, this spurred much debate about gender inclusivity in NASA, particularly about how their paraphernalia catered toward men and now had to be adjusted for the increasing number of female astronauts.

NASA has lagged behind the times when it comes to inclusivity and diversity since the start of the space race in the 1950s. The first American woman to go into space, Sally Ride, was sent nearly a full two decades after the USSR sent its first woman, Valentina Tereshkova, in the Vostok capsule. 

Sasha Daniels, an English major and junior said, “ I think a part of me was even surprised that it wasn’t even until now that this has happened. It was definitely a long time coming.” Daniels also said that she is, “surprised that in 2019, we still have female firsts. I feel like we should’ve done all these years ago.”

NASA has been slow to come aboard the modernity train, resisting diversity and inclusivity until fairly recently. This first all-female spacewalk is a step in the right direction and it seems likely that future space projects will be more progressive in this manner. Daniels agrees, saying she is, “still glad the spacewalk happened. All though we are behind, at least we are moving in the right direction.”

The first all-female spacewalk was inevitable for NASA due to the rising number of female astronauts in their ranks. NASA has plans to send its first female astronaut to the moon, and later on to send both men and women to Mars. 

As Daniels said, “women need to be on the forefront of more projects. Like many other industries, men are at the forefront…Hopefully NASA can start putting more women in places of power and give them opportunities usually given to men.”