Two accomplished engineers aboard the International Space Station are about to secure an astronomical achievement for women.
On March 29, in the wake of International Women’s Day and in perfect synchronization with Women’s History Month, astronauts Anne McClain and Christine Koch are slated to perform NASA’s first-ever spacewalk that features only women.
Kristen Facciol, an aerospace engineer with the Canadian Space Agency who will be part of the flight control team, announced the scheduled spacewalk in an excited tweet March 1.
“I just found out that I’ll be on console providing support for the FIRST ALL FEMALE SPACEWALK with @AstroAnnimal and @Astro_Christina and I can not contain my excitement!!!!” Facciol wrote, adding the hashtags #WomenInSTEM, #WomenInEngineering and #WomenInSpace.
I just found out that I’ll be on console providing support for the FIRST ALL FEMALE SPACEWALK with @AstroAnnimal and @Astro_Christina and I can not contain my excitement!!!! #WomenInSTEM #WomenInEngineering #WomenInSpace— Kristen Facciol (@kfacciol) March 1, 2019
The tweet garnered thousands of likes and the news was cheered on by other women, who weighed in with messages of support.
“Definitely looking forward to watching the first ‘unmanned’ spacewalk!” one woman tweeted.
Definitely looking forward to watching the first 'unmanned' spacewalk!— Sara Beck (@realSaraBeck) March 2, 2019
The two astronauts making history have impressive resumes.
McClain, a senior U.S. Army aviator and a native of Spokane, Washington, graduated from West Point with a degree in Mechanical/Aeronautical engineering and earned not one, but two master’s degrees in England.
McClain earned the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Army and has piloted more than 20 different aircraft for a total of more than 2,000 flight hours, according to NASA.
She joined NASA in 2013 and has been aboard the ISS since December.
The dawn of a new era in human spaceflight pic.twitter.com/BHsfg1zYLN— Anne McClain (@AstroAnnimal) March 3, 2019
Koch studied both electrical engineering and physics in college, and earned a master’s degree in the former at North Carolina State University.
Koch was also chosen to join NASA in 2013 and has extensive experience in space science instrument development and remote science field engineering, according to NASA.
Earlier in her career, Koch worked for the NOAA as station chief for the American Samoa.
While she is aboard the ISS, Koch will serve as a flight engineer. She is set to venture into space aboard the Soyuz MS-12 on March 14.
First fit check of our actual spacecraft - the Soyuz rocket! This will be the last time we test the systems while wearing our launch and landing space suits. Great to see the real deal with the crew! pic.twitter.com/H7SdhgFuSn— Christina H Koch (@Astro_Christina) March 6, 2019
McClain and Koch are the most recent examples of women who have made history in outer space.
The first woman to travel to space was Russian cosmonaut Valentina Tershkova, who piloted the Vostok 6 into orbit in 1963.