In March, when NASA had organized what was going to be the first spacewalk starring exclusively female astronauts, a reality shower, reminder of the legacy of years of discrimination, drowned the milestone.
On the International Space Station no two components torso of medium size in costumes that ideally will adapt to women ‘s bodies, so she miscarried what would have been the first extravehicular activity 100% female and it was a man and a woman, as many times before, who undertook the mission.
The plural feminine writing of another chapter in the history of space exploration was then knocking on the door in a embarrassing chapter. It was, however, only a matter of time before that door opened, and it is about to happen.
On Tuesday, NASA announced that this Thursday or Friday, ahead of a purely female EVA that was scheduled for the 21st, Christine Koch and Jessica Meir will leave to make repairs in a battery charging and discharge unit of the International Space Station that has been Failing since the weekend.
It will be the fourth time for Koch, fourteenth woman who has participated in spacewalks; the first for Jessica Meir. And 400 kilometers from Earth, floating without a man next door, the two will enter the annals.
“It is wonderful to contribute to the space flight program at a time when all contributions are being accepted, when everyone has a role and that can lead to more success options,” Koch, an electrical engineer, said a few weeks ago.
40, who also recognized the importance of his mission “for the historical nature” and recalling that “in the past, women have not always been at the table.”
Meir, 42, and a marine biologist, also stressed that the milestone they are about to mark “shows all the work that was done for decades , all the women who worked to get us where we are today,” but also remembered something else: “It is normal. We are part of the team.”
There is no difference in “qualification and skills,” as Megan McArthur, number two of the astronaut program, veteran of space herself recalled a few weeks ago.
And according to NASA information, almost a third of its active astronauts, 12 of 38, are women.
In the 2013 promotion, in which 6,300 candidates were presented, four graduated, including Koch and Meir. It was the first class, and at the moment the only one, in which there was gender parity, with the same number of male and female graduates.
It is an equality that contributes to remembering the injustice of past discrimination , and there has been abundant.
NASA did not start accepting women in its astronaut program until the late 1970s.
Already before, in the 50s, a successful program was suspended in which Randolph Lovelace tested 13 women whose results pointed to their best adequacy for space travel or on issues such as insulation resistance or stress tests.
And the American space agency will also have forever in its own history of infamy that letter with which it buried in 1962 the dreams of a girl who had her eyes on the stars: “We have no plans to employ women on space travel because of the degree of scientific and flight training and the physical characteristics that are required,” they wrote.
Fortunately that has been left on wet paper.
Koch and Meir are now preparing to add their name to a story that highlights names like Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman who traveled to space (in 1963); Svetlana Savistakaya, the first who starred in a spacewalk in 1984; Kathryn Sullivan, the first American, who did it a few months later.
And Koch, when she returns to earth in February, will add another milestone.
She arrived at the International Space Station in March and is on his way to overcome the longest flight a woman had made so far (Peggy Whitson).
It will stay close to Scott Kelly’s record and her body will be unpayable to study the effects of long-term stays in the space in the woman’s body.