NASA is moving up its first all-female spacewalk to later this week after a power system failure at the International Space Station.
Jessica Meir and fellow astronaut Christina Koch will venture outside the space station either Thursday or Friday morning, NASA said Tuesday afternoon.
Meir was set to go on her first spacewalk with astronaut Andrew Morgan at 7:50 a.m. Wednesday, but space station managers have postponed three spacewalks — on Oct. 16, Oct. 21 and Oct. 25 — to install new batteries. Instead, Meir and Koch, who were scheduled to go on the first all-female spacewalk on Monday, will replace a faulty battery unit this week, NASA said.
The battery unit failed to activate after its Oct. 11 installation. NASA said the failure has not affected station operations, the safety of the crew and ongoing experiments.
Meir, who is from Caribou, arrived on Sept. 25 at the International Space Station aboard the Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft with Russian cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka and Emirati astronaut Hazz Al Mansouri. She will be stationed there until spring 2020.
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. She 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.
This week’s spacewalk with Meir and Koch 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.
“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 earlier this month 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.”