Maine astronaut Jessica Meir is scheduled to take part in the first all-female spacewalk later this month.
NASA announced Friday that Meir and Christina Koch will take a spacewalk together on Oct. 21, when they will install lithium-ion batteries that will improve the power supply at the International Space Station.
The announcement comes almost seven months after NASA scrapped its planned all-female spacewalk by Koch and Anne McClain because it did not have two properly fitted space suits, according to The New York Times.
Meir arrived at the International Space Station about 250 miles above the Earth aboard the Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft on Sept. 25 with Russian cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka and Emirati astronaut Hazz Al Mansouri. Within 36 hours of her arrival, Meir began work on experiments that could prove key to developing new drugs to treat cancer, Alzheimer’s and other diseases.
“What we’re doing now shows all the work that went in for the decades prior [and] all the women that worked to get us where we are today,” Meir told NASA TV when asked about the milestone. “The nice thing for us is we don’t even think about it on a daily basis. It’s just normal, we’re just part of the team, and we’re doing this work as an efficient team working together with everybody else. It’s really nice to see how far that we’ve come.”
Meir, the valedictorian of Caribou High School’s Class of 1995, was among three women and four men selected from 6,100 applicants in 2013 for NASA’s 21st class of astronauts. (Koch also is a member of the 21st class of astronauts.) Before that, Meir was rejected for NASA’s 20th class of astronauts. NASA announced in April that she would go on her first spaceflight.
Meir is the third Mainer, and first Maine woman, to enter into outer space, the others being Christopher Cassidy, a York High School graduate who has completed six spacewalks and served as the nation’s chief astronaut from 2013 to 2017, and Charles O. Hobaugh, a Bar Harbor native who has made three spaceflights.