First all-female spacewalk planned

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First all-female spacewalk planned

NASA astronauts Anne McClain and Christina Koch are scheduled to suit up and head outside the International Space Station. The first American woman to spacewalk was Kathryn D. Sullivan on the Space Shuttle Challenger mission STS-41-G on October 11, 1984. The upcoming spacewalk is expected to last around seven hours, but that can change depending on how things unfold once the astronauts are out in space. According to NASA, astronauts conduct spacewalks for a number of reasons: to carry out experiments in space, to test new equipment, or to fix satellites and spacecraft.

NASA spokeswoman Stephanie Schierholz confirmed that the upcoming walk will be "the first with only women", but added that "it was not orchestrated to be this way".

They will be supported by Canadian Space Agency flight controller Kristen Facciol, who will be serving as console at Nasa's Johnson Space Center in Houston.

NASA opened the space program to female applicants in 1978.

A routine outing scheduled for March 29, and the first of three planned for this particular series, is special for reasons beyond the mission itself - it's the first ever all-female spacewalk. She was followed almost 20 years later by the second woman in space, Svetlana Savitskaya, who also did a spacewalk two years later.

In the almost 60 years of human spaceflight, there have only been four times when expeditions included two female members trained for space walks.

Koch is a member of Expedition 59, while McClain is now part of the three-person crew of the International Space Station. Anne also will join Nick Hague for the March 22 spacewalk.

USA astronaut Christina Hammock Koch, a member of the International Space Station expedition, attends her final exam at the Gagarin Cosmonauts' Training Center in Star City outside Moscow, Russia, Feb. 20, 2019.

The space agency insisted it was just a coincidence that the date coincides with the last week of Women's History Month.

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